Alex specialises in planning, environment and public law. His public law work encompasses human rights, immigration, discrimination and local government.
Alex is an established practitioner in all fields of planning law at inquiries and in the courts. Examples of his inquiry work include acting in major infrastructure projects such as the Thames Gateway Bridge, Docklands Light Railway extension, Crossrail, the M4 extension; local plan inquiries, housing schemes and waste incineration. Alex is highly rated in the directories. He is currently acting for the Department of Education promoting Abacus Primary School.
Alex undertakes a wide range of environmental work, often with a focus on EU law including strategic environmental assessment, environmental impact assessment, and habitats issues. He has acted in numerous cases on agricultural practices, water quality, nitrates, waste incineration and energy. He is currently acting for Dale Vince, George Monbiot and the Good Law Project in a claim for judicial review challenging the Energy National Policy Statements and in a Habitats Directive challenge concerning pollution to the River Wye SAC.
Public Law; Human Rights; Civil Liberties and Immigration
Alex has a broad practice encompassing all aspects of public law including human rights, discrimination, local government, and particularly in relation to immigration. Recent examples include:
- R (MA) v SSHD  EWHC 1523 (Admin) by which May J directed that an inquiry into abuse in immigration detention must be held pursuant to the investigatory duty in article 3 ECHR. Alex is now acting for core participants at the resultant Brook House Inquiry.
- R (W) v SSHD  EWHC 1299 (Admin) in which Alex acted as sole counsel for the Claimant establishing that the regime of imposing “no recourse to public funds” conditions on people’s leave to remain was inconsistent with article 3 ECHR.
- Mohammed v SSHD  EWHC 1337 (Admin) is a recent instance of Alex’s extensive work for Claimants seeking restoration of their liberty from immigration detention.
Alex has extensive experience of the law of local government including in relation to elections, village greens, information and footpaths. Recent examples include R (Day) v Shropshire Council  EWHC 3539 (Admin) concerning the effect of sections 223-231 of the Local Government Act 1972 on disposal and development of open space.
As a fellow of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law Alex has worked on the constitutions on Myanmar, Palestine and The Gambia.
Other Relevant Experience
Alex was appointed as a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘A’ panel in May 2019.
He wrote the Atkins Court Forms edition on Common Land and Village Greens.
Alex is Director of Rights: Community: Action a campaign group concerned with Climate Change.
Alex was one of the founders and (for five years) chair of Medical Justice, a charity working with immigration detainees.
During a break from full time practice 2016-2018 he ran an NGO called Kindred which organises pro bono advice and representation to refugees in camps in Northern France.
Alex is a former councillor at the London Borough of Camden.
Alex undertakes work in all fields of planning law at inquiries and in the courts. Examples of his inquiry work include acting in major infrastructure projects such as the Thames Gateway Bridge, Docklands Light Railway extension, Crossrail, the M4 extension; local plan inquiries and waste incineration including acting for objectors in a rare case of a DCO not being confirmed (the Brig y Cwm incinerator).
His High Court and Court of Appeal planning work encompasses all aspects of planning. Examples are Watermead PC v Aylesbury Vale District Council  EWCA Civ 152 (CoA) on the application of NPPF flood policy to a crematorium development; R (Westminster) v SSCLG  JPL 1276 (CoA) on difference between a hostel and a hotel in planning law; R (Mevagissey P.C.) v Cornwall Council  EWHC 3864 on the correct application of policy related to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; R (Cairns) v Hertfordshire  Env. L.R. 6 concerning a challenge to planning permission for a school in the Green Belt.
Alex is currently working on objections in five cases related to intensive poultry farming; on residential housing schemes and educational institutions; and for a number of local groups seeking to preserve open space.
He is highly rated in the directories and formerly ranked as one of the three leading planning juniors under 35.
Alex’s environmental work often involves work for local authorities, developers and local and national claimant groups with a focus on EU law aspects including Environmental Impact Assessment, Habitats and currently, air quality. Examples include leading cases on:
- Environmental Impact Assessment: (e.g. R (Burridge v Breckland District Council  JPL 1308 (sole counsel in CoA); R (Cairns) v Hertfordshire  Env. L.R. 6;
- Consideration of options under Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive (e.g. R (Friends of the Earth) v Welsh Ministers  Env LR 1);
- Habitats Directive and alternative sites: R (Westerleigh Group Ltd.) v Aylesbury Vale District Council  Env LR 11
- Air quality and Odour: Norman v SSCLG  Env LR 14 challenge based on odour and air quality measurements on a poultry farm
Public Law, Equality and Discrimination
Alex’s practice is predominantly in public law and he works within that within the more specific fields of social security, immigration; environment; planning. See other tabs for examples in those fields. Examples of current work include:
- A judicial review and damages claim securing an inquiry into breaches of the prohibition of torture in immigration detention following Panorama revelations (R (MA) v SSHD)
- A judicial review challenging the discriminatory impact and equalities implications of conditions on leave prohibiting recourse to public funds
- A challenge to treatment of trafficking victims by police and Home Office (article 4)
- Claims under the refugee convention and Dublin III regulation for refugees seeking to enter the UK from Calais
- Judicial reviews related to Open Spaces Act and village green law.
Much of Alex’s work on immigration concerns human rights (see above), particularly related to immigration detention as well as asylum and deportation appeals. His work has included acting in the European Court of Human Rights (Abdi v UK  57 EHRR 16); and at every level of the domestic courts from the Supreme Court down to the First Tier Tribunal.
He has recently acted in a large number of cases for refugees in France seeking family reunion through the Refugee Convention and Dublin III Regulation.
He also undertakes private immigration work including for example ongoing challenges by judicial review to curtailment of section 3C leave; and challenges to points based and long residence decisions.
Human Rights and Civil Liberties
Alex has a strong practice in Human Rights; particularly related to immigration; detention; trafficking victims and discrimination.
Alex has been involved in many of the leading cases on false imprisonment and the right to liberty including Lumba v SSHD  1 AC 245 and Kambadzi v SSHD  1 WLR 1299 in the Supreme Court and R (Francis) v SSHD  1 WLR 567 and R (Antonio) v SSHD  WLR 3431 in the Court of Appeal.
His human rights work currently involves a judicial review seeking a public inquiry into the operation of immigration detention centres pursuant to the article 3 investigatory duty and is currently challenging the compatibility of the new system of immigration bail as incompatible with article 5 ECHR.
Alex is engaged on a range of cases challenging the discriminatory effects (contrary to article 14 ECHR) of Home Office policy of “no recourse to public funds” for people granted leave which have resulted in the award of damages and the Home Office reconsidering the policy.
Alex acts in numerous damages claims in the High Court for immigrants including over a hundred false imprisonment claims for immigration detainees, as well as in claims for misfeasance; breaches of the Data Protection Act, negligence and human rights act claims for compensation for breaches of articles 3 (prohibition on torture) and 4 (prohibition on slavery).
Alex’s work in local government (other than planning environment) encompasses a wide range of matters including footpaths and highways such as Owen v Devon CC  EWHC 4895; village greens (e.g. R (SDR) v Bristol City Council  EWHC 859; welfare benefits (see above); Information rights R (Perry) v LB Hackney  JPL 454; and election law.
Public International Law
Since 2013 Alex has been engaged in extensive work relating to the constitutional arrangements of Myanmar and of the Palestinian National Authority.
- Inns of Court School of Law 2003: Bar Vocational Course, Very Competent.
- City University 2002: Diploma in Law, Commendation
- Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University 2000: English Literature M.A. First
- Lincoln’s Inn Scholarships
- Hardwicke Entrance Scholarship, Lord Denning Scholarship, Megarry Scholarship
Chambers & Partners: Recommended junior for planning law: “very good at investigating and building the legal case” (2015); “extremely quick, grasps detail immediately and instantly knows what to do. He is just a joy to work with” (2014); “continues to be a junior of choice”; “astronomical intelligence, creative thinking and sheer hard work on every type of project thrown at him. He will undoubtedly rise to the very top in his career” (2013).
Legal 500: Recommended for Planning Law for many years: “His depth of knowledge of planning and enforcement is immense” (2018); “Strongly recommended for claimant judicial reviews” (2014).
Chambers & Partners: Recommended junior for immigration law (band 2) for many years: “He acts at the cutting edge of the law” (2019); “He is just a superb advocate, who is incredibly impressive on his feet. He’s one of those advocates who wins cases with his advocacy” (2015); “really good on immigration detention” (2014).
Legal 500: Recommended for Immigration: “He has the ability to turn around an extremely sceptical and hostile bench in the Court of Appeal.” (2019); “A barrister with the ‘X’ factor and a brain that fizzes”(2014); “dizzying intellectual ability is allied to a propensity for real hard graft” (2013).
Administrative & Public Law
Legal 500: Recommended for Administrative & Public (including Local Government) law: “He is one of the best junior advocates and he can turn around a sceptical bench” (2018); “calm and unflappable in all situations, and works like a Trojan”.
Chambers & Partners: Recommended up and coming barrister for Local Government: “hard-working, calm and collected” (2013).
Legal 500: “He provides great depth of thinking to complex cases.”(2019).
Alex was one of the founders and chair (for five years) of Medical Justice, a charity working with immigration detainees. He now runs an NGO called Kindred which organises pro bono advice and representation to refugees in camps in Northern France. As a former fellow of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law Alex has worked since 2013 with Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar Parliament on reform of its constitution as well as with the Palestinian National Authority on rule of law matters. He wrote the volume of Atkins Law on Village Greens. He was formerly a councillor at the London Borough of Camden. He is a keen chess player and runs the chess club at his children’s school.
Alex appears at inquiries for developers, local authorities, central government and objectors. Examples of his work include:
- Thames Gateway Bridge (a compulsory purchase inquiry in which Timothy Corner QC acted for the development corporation. TRAD successfully resisted the compulsory purchase order)
- Brig y Cwm Incinerator (for consortium of objectors – instructed by Friends of the Earth on behalf of the United Valleys Action Group opposing the application before the Infrastructure Planning Commission)
- Petitioning on Crossrail
- Docklands Light Railway extension (for Mayor of London)
- Milton Keynes Core Strategy Examination in Public (for housing developer)
- Equity Point Hotel (2017 – for the hotel)
- Oxclose Lane, Mansfield, 150 Dwelling development (2019 – for Mansfield District Council)
- Abacus Primary School (2020 – for Department for Education)
- Brook House Public Inquiry (ongoing – for core participants)
Publications and other positions
Alex wrote the current edition Atkins Court Forms on Commons and Village Greens (2013).
He is a Research Fellow at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law where his work has included co-authoring Constitutional Reform in Myanmar: Priorities and Prospects for Amendment (2014).
He is a trustee of Medical Justice, a charity working for immigration detainees.
He was formerly a councillor at London Borough of Camden.
He is a member of the EHRC ‘A’ panel of Counsel.
Articles and Presentations
- Is climate change the new weapon of choice in planning and environmental JR? Part 2
- Planning High Court Challenges Annual Conference, Part 1 – webinar
- The Review of Judicial Review: Reflections on the Faulks Review – Webinar
- Indirect Discrimination – A powerful, effective but under-used tool in tackling discrimination in the UK – Webinar
- Schedule 10 IA 2016
- Schedule 10 – Note
- Immigration Detention: An Update – Webinar
- How and why the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ policy has been held to be unlawful (R (W) v SSHD) – Webinar
- The Good Law Project’s Webinar – UK Energy Policy Challenge
- Addressing Climate Change Through the Law
- The Gambia Constitution – Constitutional Reform and the Rule of Law
- Manifestos And What To Expect From The Next Government
- Objectors Do And Don’ts Of Objections To DCOs
- Detention And Bail A Caselaw Update
- Public Engagement In The Brook House Inquiry
- Human rights act duties to hold an inquiry
- Claimant Strategy
- Time limits and service in judicial review and statutory challenges
- Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment and Brexit
- Detention of Vulnerable Adults
- Habitats issues in plan making
- Data Protection, the GDPR and Brexit
- Calais and Dunkirk: Giving advice
- The implications of leaving the European Union for planning and environmental law
- How much difference will leaving the EU make to planning and environmental law?
- The Implications of Leaving the European Union for Planning and Environmental Law
- Environmental Impact Assessment: Some Primary Considerations
- EIA Case Law Update
- Current issues on appropriate assessment and mitigation of impacts
- Town and Village Greens: The GIA 2013 and other recent developments