Landmark’s local government practitioners cover the full range of local government powers and functions with strength in depth in all areas and at all seniority. With its wide ranging expertise and experience in acting for local authorities in complex disputes across local authority functions, its members are well versed in considering and addressing issues in a holistic way so as to ensure that all aspects and implications of the issue or dispute across all relevant local authority functions are properly addressed so as to chart a successful route through complex and multifaceted problems.
With an unrivalled 12 silks and 28 juniors practicing in local government, Landmark’s cross cutting expertise is recognised in the directories through top rankings in administrative and public law, human rights and civil liberties, community care, environment, education, immigration, planning, real estate, rating and valuation, social housing, and public procurement.
Recent high profile cases showing the breadth and importance of Landmark work include R(Day) v Shropshire Council  2 WLR 599 in the Supreme Court concerning local authority disposal of open space held on trust; R(Sheakh) v Lambeth LBC  PTSR 1315 on adoption of low traffic neighbourhoods including consideration of the public sector equalities duty; R(Worcestershire CC) v SSH (CA; 2022) on allocation of financial responsibility between public authorities on discharge from mental health detention; Nuffield in the Supreme Court on charitable exemptions to business rates; Faraday  on public procurement and development agreements; West Berks  on affordable housing policy.
Governance, constitutional and public law
We advise on everything from routine governance issues to a full governance crisis. We regularly advise on Council constitutions, powers, delegation to committees and responding to past governance errors. Examples include:
- Advising and representing councils and councillors in Code of Conduct violations
- Governance and constitutional issues raised by local government reorganisation
- Advising authorities concerning the exercise of their powers to invest in land: (1) for commercial gain; (2) for social housing; and (3) regeneration
- Defending many claims for judicial review, including for London borough in challenges to use of delegated powers; to composition of committees and to revocation of certificates under various statutory schemes wrongfully secured from the local authority.
Landmark advises local authorities both in their capacity as regulator and as bodies subject to regulation by others. Landmark has experience across a wide range of regulatory regimes, including councillors, solicitors, police, planners, accountants, doctors, care homes and domiciliary care providers. Advisory work includes:
- To a local authority conducting disciplinary proceedings involving councillors
- Where a Leader of the Council was properly suspected of fraud, disclosure to the police and advice on division of responsibilities between officers and councillors
- To a consortium of Councils relating to Solicitors Regulation Authority requirements for merged legal services
- On the Care Quality Commission regulatory framework for care home operators
- Drafted the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023, which will expand LA powers to regulate supported housing
- On disclosure of social work records and medically confidential information within care proceedings, Court of Protection proceedings, criminal proceedings and professional disciplinary proceedings
- Local authority regulatory powers vis a vis the private rented sector, including Leicester CC v Morjaria  UKUT 129 (LC) and Waltham Forest LBC v Hussain  UKUT 241 (LC) (CA pending)
- Advising a local authority in relation to regulatory proceedings against its affordable housing adviser by RICS.
Commercial and contractual disputes, and procurement issues
- Landmark has extensive experience of advising councils and developers on procurement issues, especially arising from development agreements where we appeared in the leading case (Faraday, above). Landmark barristers acted for the Defendants in the two of the most complex and high value procurement cases in the TCC in 2022 and 2023: Atos v Met Office  EWHC 42 (TCC) and Camelot and IGT v Gambling Commission (still on-going). We advise and act for public bodies concerning land disposal including issues around best value and State Aid, as well as acting for public bodies in a number of high value commercial and contractual disputes (e.g. NHS Comm Body v Silovsky ).
- Advice to local authorities relating to State Aid and public subsidy issues, including experience of post-Brexit framework and new Subsidy Control Act 2022.
- We advise and act for public bodies concerning land disposal including issues around best value and public subsidy, as well as acting for public bodies in a number of high value commercial and contractual disputes. Recent work includes advice on the legality of a contract entered into by a local authority without explicitly securing best value; enforcing through court action, mediation or arbitration s.106 and overage obligations for various London authorities; s.106 obligations including on education and affordable housing; advising for a council having to choose between competing litigious supermarket operators under s.123; and for a council assessing options for the disposal of large parts of its office estate as a result from COVID and working from home.
Information / data protection / Freedom of information / Environmental Information Regulations
We have extensive experience of data protection law and have guided local authority clients through GDPR implementation. Our counsel have acted in leading cases on environmental information regulations and local authority property searches and have appeared in many cases before the Information Tribunal on FOIA and DPA issues.
Local Government Finance
Significant experience across all areas of local government finance, including local government audit. Examples include advising and/or acting on: misallocation of ring fenced funds of a harbour authority; legality of large scale loans taken out for the purpose of reducing pension fund deficit; challenge to decision of local authority auditor; legality of loans proposed to be taken out under the Local Government Act 2003 for the purposes of major infrastructure provision (including as to compliance with the CIPFA Prudential Code). We also have significant experience advising local government bodies in relation to setting and enforcement of Council Tax, including advice on setting of “special expenses” for parished area, on harmonisation of Council Tax rates following merger. Landmark has recognised market leading experience in the rating
field, acting for and advising ratepayers, billing authorities and VOA. Leading billing authority cases include LB Merton v Nuffield Health (2023), UKI Kingsway v Westminster (2019) and Makro v Nuneaton , Landmark has appeared in 6 Supreme Court rating cases in recent years and was on both sides in three of these.
Advisory and litigation experience relating to Community Infrastructure Levy including acting for the successful taxpayer in the first CA case in this field (Giordano ), and successfully for the local authority concerning its refusal to grant social housing relief (Stonewater v Wealden ). Landmark counsel also provided extensive advice to London authorities in the CIL field, notably including to multiple local authorities on the interplay between CIL and section 106 agreements.
Landmark counsel appear regularly in tribunals and advise local authorities on EHCP plans, special educational needs cases and school exclusion. We have appeared in a series of significant cases concerning the law relating to academies. We have provided LAs with advice about the handing of religion within schools and have detailed legal knowledge of the Protect programme and issues around radicalisation. Examples include CP v North Lincs Council: judicial review of refusal to fund chosen education facility for learning disabled young woman.
Judicial reviews on any subject matter
Landmark has acted, often for more than one party, in many of the most high-profile judicial review cases in recent years, both in the local government field specifically and across all areas of public law.
Other high profile / high risk matters
Landmark has experience of providing confidential, experienced and sensitive advice and representation in high value matters or where the reputation of the Council, senior staff or councillors are on the line. Most are too confidential to be able to disclose but they include:
- Advice to a London Borough on the respective responsibilities of the Borough and the Fire Authorities in connection with the removal of cladding in the immediate aftermath of Grenfell Tower. Required collaboration between specialist local government silk leading a property specialist junior, both members of Landmark.
- Advice over time to a London Borough in connection with the implications of the judgment in Jones v Southwark BC concerning treatment of Thames Water charges in charges made in council's tenancies.
- Advice where a local authority’s parking contractor was shown to have committed widespread fraud, with very serious financial implications for monies that were potentially refundable.
- Significant advisory work to London local authorities concerning road traffic regulation, road user charging, and enforcement of civil penalties, under London local acts.
Local authorities need the best legal advice about the management of their corporate affairs. We have extensive experience in dealing with the consequences for real estate of the dissolution of, and restoration of, limited companies, as well as setting up joint ventures, partnerships and development agreements.
Establishment of corporate structures etc
Members of Landmark have experience in dealing with the establishment of JV companies, partnerships and limited liability partnerships. Our JV experience relates to companies formed (or to be dissolved) for the purposes of acquiring, developing and disposing of real estate.