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Sasha Blackmore

Sasha Blackmore

YEAR OF CALL 2005sblackmore@landmarkchambers.co.uk

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Public & Human Rights Law

Sasha undertakes a variety of public law work which is at the heart of her practice, including central and local government, freedom of information, immigration, education, mental health, social security, prisons, transport as well as planning and environmentally-related public law. She has a long-standing interest in environmental and planning law, and her judicial review practice extends broadly to issues arising in social security law, equality and discrimination law (she is on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Panel of Counsel).

Sasha has appeared before all levels of Appellate Court and regularly appears in the High Court in judicial review and statutory planning appeal matters, in her own right and when being led by senior counsel. Her clients include government, individuals, property developers, local authorities and NGOs. As well as her long-standing interest in environmental and planning law in this area, she also has a keen interest in education, immigration and social security/welfare rights law and has recently appeared in the Supreme Court in relation to Child Tax Credits. She has experience of all types of school appeals and has been involved in immigration appeals to the courts and a variety of First Tier and Upper Tribunal work (for both Claimants/Appellants and for the Secretary of State).  She also undertakes rating work.

Recent cases of note include:

  • Greenpeace v DEFRA and the MMO [2016] EWHC 55 (Admin). an important challenge brought by Greenpeace to the Secretary of State’s allocation of fishing rights under the EU Common Fisheries Policy).

  • MS and others v SSHD, the latest Dublin returns case on returns of asylum seekers to Italy (on appeal from [2015] EWHC 1095 (Admin) to the Court of Appeal (led by Lisa Giovannetti QC).

  • Dunnett v SSCLG [2016] EWHC 534 (Admin), an important case on the interpretation of planning conditions post the obiter comments by the Supreme Court in Trump v The Scottish Ministers[2015] UKSC 74.

  • Johnson v SSEFRA [2015] UKUT 0207 (AAC) and NVZ/2012/032; the only Nitrates appeal to have been determined by the Upper Tribunal.

  • Kuteh v Secretary of State for Education [2014] EWCA Civ 1586 (and successfully defending the Secretary of State’s safeguarding decision subsequently in the First Tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal in 2015 and 2016); an important case in the Court of Appeal on the Upper Tribunal’s discretion to depart from the High Court’s findings on an error of law.

  • Powell v Brighton Marina and the MMO [2015] EWCA Civ 650; [2015] JPL 1301]. The claim was dismissed by the Court of Appeal and permission was refused by the Supreme Court.  A third judicial review claim by the same applicant is currently (2016) seeking permission from the High Court.
  • C-71/14 East Sussex Council Sasha acted for Central Government, led by James Maurici QC in these important cases about access to environmental information in property search charging.  The multi-million pound claims, including other domestic claims, relate to access to free environmental information in property searches.

Legal 500 recommends Sasha as a leading junior in public and administrative law (“Enjoys a growing reputation in public law.”).

Immigration

Sasha is highly experienced in judicial review challenges to a variety of immigration matters. The majority of Sasha’s immigration practice is for the Secretary of State, but she also accepts instructions for both individuals/businesses.  She is currently appearing in the Court of Appeal Italy returns litigation, led by Lisa Giovannetti QC. She appears in over a hundred oral permission hearings a year in both the High Court/Upper Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.  She has significant experience in revocation of sponsorship licences, unlawful detention, fresh claims, Article 8 challenges, point based system challenges and “Third Country” removals (usually Article 2/3 based) and Gurka claims, as well as claims to entitlement to British citizenship.  

Recent reported cases of note include:

  • MS, NA, SG v SSHD [2015] EWHC 1095 (Admin) – the latest “Italy returns” case under Dublin II which will be heard by the Court of Appeal in late summer.  Sasha is instructed in a number of other Italy cases which are at either pre-permission or substantive stage in the Court of Appeal, High Court and Upper Tribunal. 

  • Licence revocation cases. Sasha has appeared for the Secretary of State in about a dozen challenges to revocation or suspension of sponsor licences, including the often reported R (on the application of Westech College) – v – the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 1484 (Admin) (Silber J.).  Sasha is currently instructed in two different substantive licence challenge cases for the Secretary of State.
  • A significant number of unlawful detention cases, including recently in 2016 Ibrahim v SSHD [2016] EWHC 158 (Admin). Sasha is currently instructed in four other substantive unlawful detention challenges (many of which settle on agreed terms).

Other public law, including social security and education and care standards law, ratings and other public law

Sasha appears regularly for a variety of claimants and defendants in other public law matters.  Her clients include individuals, small or larger local groups, Parish Councils, local government, central government, the police, companies and devolved administrations or non-departmental public bodies. 

Her experience in planning and environmental-related public law work is summarised above, and also includes advisory work on assets of community value (including judicial review proceedings).  This also includes information-rights based work, and Sasha has advised on both appeals to the Information Commissioner and appeals under the DPA as well as access to information under the Environmental Information Regulations.

Sasha has a particular interest in equality and the protection of the vulnerable, particularly cases impacting on women and the regulation of when professionals are able to work with children or vulnerable adults.  She appears regularly for the Department of Work and Pensions in the Upper Tribunal on social security and child benefit matters, and also accepts instructions from individuals (often on a pro-bono basis) in the same area. Sasha acts regularly for the Department of Work and Pensions and also does a number of pro-bono cases a year for individual claimants. 

Recent reported cases of interest in this area include Kuteh v Secretary of State for Education [2014] EWCA Civ 1586 (and successfully defending the decision in the Care Standards Tribunal in 2015 and Upper Tribunal in 2016) and a range of cases for the DWP in the Upper Tribunal, including Pirroni v DWP CE/2966/2014and Taylor and Coombs v SSWP (RNIB intervening) (judgment awaited) and  cases involving child support.  She also appeared for Mr Humphreys in Humphreys v HMRC [2012] UKSC 18 in the Supreme Court (led by Richard Drabble QC) as to the apportionment of Child Tax Credit for substantial minority carers on subsistence benefits on the basis of discrimination between men and women. Sasha sat on the Neuberger Entry to the Bar Working Party group, set up to try to improve access to the Bar, and is one of small number of barristers appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Panel Counsel in 2015

Sasha has acted in a variety of prison law cases, for the Parole Board, and for the Police, including recent High Court challenges to a prison adjudicator’s decision about the meaning of a “fight in prison, the scope of the MoJ’s discretion to release on licence, and challenges to the police’s discretion in relation to maintaining data on its database and issuing harassment notices.  

Sasha spent her first year of tenancy as a Judicial Assistant to the Law Lords (Lord Scott of Foscote, Baroness Hale of Richmond and Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury), working on cases before both the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords and the Privy Council. She gained substantial experience of appellate advocacy and judicial practice during that year. Unsurprisingly Sasha worked on an extremely large range of public law cases in her year as Judicial Assistant. These included Al-Skeini and others v Secretary of State for Defence [2007] UKHL 26, YL (by her litigation friend the Official Solicitor) v. Birmingham City Council [2007] UKHL 27, Secretary of State for the Home Dept. v JJ and Others [2007] UKHL 45, R (on the application of Laporte) v. Chief Constable of Gloucestershire [2006] UKHL 55 and Huang and Kashmiri v Secretary of State, [2007] UKHL 11.

In September 2016, Sasha was appointed to the Attorney-General's "B" Panel of Junior Counsel.  She is also one of a small number of barristers appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Panel Counsel in 2015.