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Admas Habteslasie

Call: 2014
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Practice Summary

Admas accepts instructions in all areas of Chambers’ work and, in addition, has a particular expertise in international law. He is a member of the Attorney-General’s C Panel of Counsel.

Prior to joining Chambers, Admas spent a year as the judicial assistant to Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court and worked as a caseworker for the UN Refugee Agency in Jordan. He carried out postgraduate law studies as a Thouron Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he graduated joint 1st in his year. Admas speaks fluent Arabic.

Admas is a member of ILA, HRLA, ALBA, ILPA, UKELA and CHBA.

View Admas’s profile on our International site

Public Law / Human Rights

Admas was appointed the Attorney-General’s C Panel of Counsel in September 2019.

Admas has a broad public law practice and acts for claimants, defendants and interveners. His recent public law experience includes:

  • R (Horeau and others) v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: (with Ben Jaffey QC and Paul Luckhurst) acting for Chagos Islanders expelled to the Seychelles in the 1960s and 70s in a challenge to the UK government’s recent decision to refuse to allow resettlement of the Chagos Islands (currently on appeal to the Court of Appeal)
  • Mohamed v Abdi: appearing (led by Deepak Nagpal) as the Advocate to the Court in a case concerning the status in English law of foreign marriages celebrated in unrecognised states
  • R (SHU) v Secretaries of State for Health and Social Care and the Home Department: acting (with Samantha Broadfoot QC) for the claimants in a challenge to the NHS charging regime (on the basis of Art.8 and 14 of the ECHR) and the vires/rationality of Immigration Rules provisions requiring NHS debts to be taken into account in applications for leave to remain
  • Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens v Secretary of State for the Home Department: acting (with Richard Drabble QC) for one of the claimants in proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the fee for registration of children as British citizens
  • Akther: appearing for the Attorney-General in the Court of Appeal in an appeal concerning the effect of Art.12 of the ECHR on domestic rules regarding the validity of marriages (Southall Black Sisters intervening)
  • R (ERA) v Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Secretary of State for Health and Social Care intervening) [2019] EWHC 1249 (Admin): acting (with Stephen Knafler QC) for a vulnerable claimant challenging the decision of two NHS trusts to charge her for life-saving treatment
  • Acting for a number of victims of trafficking challenging decisions of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on, inter alia, grounds that refusals to grant compensation are contrary to EU law and the ECHR
  • Appearing for objectors to the HS2 railway line before the House of Commons HS2 Committee
  • Acting in an ongoing piece of strategic litigation relating to a discrimination challenge against an unpublished policy of a central government department
  • Advising the Department of Health on Brexit issues arising in relation to reciprocal healthcare
  • Acting (with David Blundell and Julia Smyth) for the Department for Work and Pensions in relation to a large number of claims in the Upper Tribunal stayed behind the litigation in Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Tolley C-430/15
  • R (Falconer) v Secretary of State for Education: acting (led by Galina Ward) for the Department of Education in defending a challenge to a decision to open a new academy on, inter alia, the basis that there was a failure to comply with the public sector equality duty

Admas is the co-author of the chapter on judicial review procedure in Judicial Review (Supperstone, Goudie and Walker) and of the chapter on Article 10 in Human Rights Practice (Simor). Admas has a significant practice in international law and takes a particular interest in the overlap of public international law principles and ECHR/public law rights, and has published a number of articles relating to this subject (see publications).

International Law

Admas has a varied practice in public and private international law, both in the context of domestic litigation and disputes governed by international law.

Admas’ recent experience includes:

  • Mohamed v Breish: acting for the respondent (with Shaheed Fatima QC and Eesvan Krishnan) in the ongoing Commercial Court proceedings in respect of the dispute over the chairmanship of the Libyan Investment Authority, raising questions of Libyan law and the scope of the one-voice doctrine
  • Advising a London-based NGO on public international law issues arising out a complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Advising Transparency International on the design and implementation of anti-corruption measures

Admas is regularly instructed in domestic public law proceedings that raise public international law issues:

  • R (Horeau and others) v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: (with Ben Jaffey QC and Paul Luckhurst) acting for the claimant in a challenge to the UK government’s 2016 decision to refuse to allow resettlement of the Chagos Islands, raising issues of the relationship between the lawfulness of the UK’s administration of overseas territory and Art.56 of the ECHR, and the domestic effect of ICJ advisory opinions (currently on appeal to the Court of Appeal)
  • Mohamed v Abdi: appearing (led by Deepak Nagpal) as the Advocate to the Court in a case concerning the status of foreign marriages celebrated in unrecognised states in English law, raising the issue of the scope of the exception to the principle of non-recognition of the laws of unrecognised states/governments

Admas takes a particular interest in international law issues relating to the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. He speaks fluent Arabic and has extensive experience of working in Arabic, including with Arabic-language documents and working closely with experts in Arabic, particularly in relation to foreign law expert reports.

Admas also worked on public international law issues in the context of domestic appellate litigation as a judicial assistant at the Supreme Court, in particular in the following appeals:

  • Serdar Mohamed v Ministry of Defence: legal basis for detention powers in non-international armed conflicts
  • Youssef v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2016] UKSC 3: a challenge to the United Kingdom’s decision to allow the appellant’s name to be added to the United Nations Security Council’s list of people subject to asset freezing asset-freezing
  • Ministry of Defence v Iraqi Civilians [2016] UKSC 25: a claim concerning the application of conflict of laws principles on the determination of the correct limitation period to claims applying Iraqi law

Prior to commencing practice at the Bar, Admas worked as a caseworker for the UN Refugee Agency focusing on exclusion issues, carrying out determinations of whether applicants were excluded from protection on the basis of involvement in war crimes or crimes against humanity, and interviewed applicants in Arabic. Admas’ other international law experience prior to commencing practice includes:

  • As a legal assistant to the Legal Adviser to a state party to an inter-state post-war claims arbitration, carrying out legal research, assisting with the production of sworn declarations by witnesses and drafting sections of the state party’s memorials
  • Carrying out legal research into developing areas of public international law and international human rights law pertaining to the conflict in Syria (with a focus on the powers of the UN Security Council) for the Legal Adviser to the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and Arab League to Syria
  • Advising non-governmental organisations in Haiti on the procedure and principles underpinning the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process

Admas has published a number of articles on the interplay between public international law principles and the development of ECHR jurisprudence domestically and in the ECtHR (see articles). As an LLM student at the University of Pennsylvania, Admas graduated with the joint highest Distinction in his year, carried out research on public international law for a number of professors, and was awarded a discretionary A+ in his public international law examination.

Planning and Environmental Law

Admas has a busy planning practice encompassing work for developers, local authorities, individuals, NGOs and community groups, in the Planning Court and in inquiries. He has appeared at a number of Roswell inquiries and has significant experience of post-Rosewell inquiry procedure.

Recent examples of appeal inquiry work include:

  • Appearing (as junior to Sasha White QC) for the developer in a two-week appeal relating to a proposal for care/assisted living facilities and dwellings in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in West Sussex
  • Appearing (as junior to Christopher Katkowski QC) for the developer in an appeal relating to a proposal for 150 homes in the Green Belt in Maidenhead
  • Appearing (as junior to James Maurici QC) for Swindon Borough Council in a s.78 appeal against the refusal of planning permission for an Energy for Waste plant in Swindon; this was the first appeal to consider the Secretary of State’s new waste strategy for England, Our Waste, Our Resources

Admas has significant experience of advising on CPO matters and appearing in CPO inquiries. Recent inquiry experience includes:

  • Appearing (as junior to John Hobson QC) for Birmingham City Council in the CPO inquiry in relation to the compulsory acquisition of 27.6 ha of land in Perry Barr, Birmingham, for the Commonwealth Games 2022 and legacy redevelopment
  • Appearing (as junior to James Maurici QC) for Highways England and Walsall Borough Council in a CPO inquiry in relation to proposed improvement works to Junction 10 of the M6

Admas has extensive experience of appearing in the Planning Court, both led and unled. He is a member of the Attorney-General’s C Panel of Counsel. Recent experience includes:

  • Appearing for the claimant in a challenge to a grant of planning permission in Fitzrovia on the basis of heritage impact on a neighbouring Grade II listed building
  • R (Knappett) v West Sussex County Council: acting (as sole counsel) for a local planning authority in relation to a judicial review challenge on environmental grounds (EIA) of the grant of permission for a wastewater treatment plant
  • Appearing (as junior to Christopher Katkowski QC) for the defendant local authority in relation to a judicial review claim brought by a major developer
  • acting for local residents challenging a major infrastructure project on the basis that an associated mitigation scheme fails to comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010
  • acting for an interested party resisting a residential development on a school playing field in judicial review proceedings

Other relevant experience includes:

  • appearing for a local planning authority in County Court proceedings relating to the enforcement of a s.106 agreement
  • appearing for the appellant at a two-day enforcement inquiry raising issues of abandonment of residential use, 5-year housing supply, and the principle of development in an AONB
  • appearing for the planning authority in a two-day enforcement inquiry raising issues of the principle of development in an AONB and the meaning of a ‘building’ for the purposes of s.171B of the TCPA
  • acting for the developer in a 3-day trial in the Magistrates’ Court on a challenge to a section 215 notice on both statutory and public law grounds
  • appearing (as junior to Tim Corner QC) for the Rule 6 party Magdalen College, Oxford at an appeal inquiry relating to a proposed student residential development in Oxford adjacent to a number of Oxford colleges and raising issues of heritage impact

Admas also has experience of advising on a wide range of planning matters, including: contaminated land; highways issues (seeking stopping up orders under the Highways Act and the TCPA), Green Belt and AONB policy, air quality issues under the Habitats Directive, the Community Infrastructure Levy, compulsory purchase, listed buildings and conservation areas (including prosecution for listed building offences), lawful use certificates, non-material amendments to planning permissions, applications to amend conditions, and planning obligations.

Admas takes a particular interest in environmental law, whether arising in the context of planning disputes or otherwise, and has experience of advising and drafting statements of case in relation to challenges to environmental permits granted under the 2010 Regulations.

Rating and Valuation

Admas has a particular interest in rating and has extensive experience of appearing in the Magistrates’ Court on liability order disputes, in the Valuation Tribunal on valuation disputes, and in the Administrative Court. He is a member of the Attorney-General’s C Panel of Counsel.

Examples of Admas’ recent rating work include:

  • Advising and appearing in the Magistrates’ Court for ratepayers seeking to challenge the imposition of liability orders on a variety of grounds
  • Appearing in the Valuation Tribunal for ratepayers in valuation disputes and completion notice appeals
  • Drafting statements of case in challenges to retrospective imposition of business rates liability following Woolway (VO) v Mazars;
  • Advising on a range of rating issues, including: exemptions from unoccupied rates; state aid issues; transitional relief; valuation tribunal practice and procedure; the VOA’s powers and duties; and a wide range of business rates liability issues relating to the occupation of office buildings

As a pupil to Dan Kolinsky QC, Admas assisted on appeals in the Upper Tribunal, Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court (Woolway (VO) v Mazars).

Property Law

Admas has a busy property practice and appears regularly in the Chancery Division and the County Court in a wide variety of property disputes, with expertise in landlord and tenant and real property matters.

Admas has particular expertise in advising and appearing for local authorities in property disputes arising from proposed major developments and raising complex factual issues relating to the historic use, ownership and status of local authority land. In doing so, he is able to draw on his related expertise in and knowledge of planning law and public law (including work advising the Department for Education on school playing fields).

Admas is presently instructed:

  • (led by Katharine Holland QC) in a week-long trial in the Chancery Division raising issues of the existence of a constructive trust, the definition of charity proceedings and the extent to which public law arguments can be raised in private law litigation
  • (led by Timothy Morshead QC) in a substantial rent-review arbitration between a private entity and a public body

Admas has recently appeared in:

  • 1954 Act proceedings on behalf of a local authority landlord seeking possession on ground (f), in the context of a broader major development raising politically sensitive issues
  • injunction proceedings in a 4-day trial in the County Court, acting for the Claimant
  • residential and commercial possession hearings and trials in the County Courts, including cases raising issues of: the validity of notice given under the 1954 Act; trust and probate disputes; loss of secure tenancy under the Housing Act 1985; and disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010
  • charging order applications in the Commercial Court
  • an application by a tenant to set aside a statutory demand for liabilities arising under a commercial lease

Other experience includes:

  • a dispute relating to the management of a large mixed-use development raising complex issues around the application of the Equality Act;
  • a professional negligence claim in respect of a property transaction (drafting advice and statement of case)
  • advising on the prospects of a misrepresentation claim in the context of a property bought at an auction

As a judicial assistant to the (then) President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, Admas worked on a number of property-related appeals:

  • Edwards v Kumarasamy [2016] UKSC 40: a disrepair case concerning the application of section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as between a tenant and subtenant, and the question of when a landlord is liable under a repair covenant despite not having had notice of the disrepair
  • Lynn Shellfish v Loose and another: a case concerning a dispute as to the boundaries of a fishing right acquired by prescription
  • Marks & Spencer v BNP Paribas Securities Services Trust Company: construction of a commercial lease, implication of terms
  • McDonald v McDonald: an appeal concerning the question of whether Article 8 of the ECHR applied in the context of possession claims in relation to tenancies granted by private landlords
  • Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs v Investment Trust Companies (In Liquidation) and others; Bank of Cyprus v Menelaou [2015] UKSC 66: claims in unjust enrichment

Qualifications

  • University of Warwick: BA Film and Literature (2003)
  • University of the Arts London: MA Documentary Photography (Distinction, 1st in year, 2005)
  • Kaplan Law School: GDL (Commendation, 2009)
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School: LLM (Distinction, Award for Excellence (joint 1st in year), 2012)
  • City Law School: BPTC (Very Competent, 2014)

Scholarships and Awards

  • Horace Avory Scholarship, Exhibition and Duke of Edinburgh Scholarship (Inner Temple, 2012)
  • Thouron Scholarship (2011)
  • Full GDL scholarship (Kaplan Law School, 2008)

Publications

January 2017
Room for improvement (commentary on Supreme Court decision in R (Carmichael and Rourke) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKSC 58, the ‘bedroom tax’ appeal) | New Law Journal, Issue 7731

February 2017
Derogation in Time of War: The Application of Article 15 of the ECHR in Extraterritorial Armed Conflicts | Judicial Review 2016, Issue 4

March 2017
Detention in times of war: Article 5, UN Security Council Resolutions and the Supreme Court decision in Serdar Mohammed v Ministry of Defence | European Human Rights Law Review 2017, Issue 2

Inquiries

Oxford student accommodation appeal dismissed on heritage grounds

04/12/2017

The Inspector has dismissed an appeal by McLaren and Merton College, Oxford against Oxford City Council’s refusal of planning permission for student accommodation at Manor Place, Oxford. The Inspector concluded that the scheme’s impact on heritage assets, including Magdalen College Grove (Deer Park) would not be outweighed by its public benefits.

Timothy Corner QC and Admas Habteslasie appeared for Magdalen College and the Oxford Preservation Trust.

Reuben Taylor QC and Andrew Byass acted for the Appellants. Please click here for the decision.

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Inquiries

Oxford student accommodation appeal dismissed on heritage grounds

04/12/2017

The Inspector has dismissed an appeal by McLaren and Merton College, Oxford against Oxford City Council’s refusal of planning permission for student accommodation at Manor Place, Oxford. The Inspector concluded that the scheme’s impact on heritage assets, including Magdalen College Grove (Deer Park) would not be outweighed by its public benefits.

Timothy Corner QC and Admas Habteslasie appeared for Magdalen College and the Oxford Preservation Trust.

Reuben Taylor QC and Andrew Byass acted for the Appellants. Please click here for the decision.

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