Alex’s practice comprises public law (including human rights, immigration; social security and discrimination); planning, environment, local government and civil claims for damages. He acts for claimants, local and central government; developers and NGOs and other campaign organisations. He is on the EHRC’s A Panel of counsel. A full list of cases is found in the tab on the right.
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 Docklands Light Railway extension, Crossrail, the M4 extension; local plan inquiries, housing schemes and waste incineration.
Inquiries in the past 12 months include current instructions for a local authority in relation to a local plan inquiry; acting for the Department of Education at a planning appeal for a primary school and acting for a local authority at a planning appeal concerning a mid-sized housing scheme.
Alex has extensive experience in the higher courts. For example in R (Cairns) v Hertfordshire CC and Department for Education and others  Env. L.R. 6 in which the High Court accepted that the local authority failed in its screening opinion (under the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations for England) to take account of the significance of a Saxon grave, but declined to quash the planning permission.
Alex undertakes a wide range of environmental work, often with a focus on 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.
Alex was recently instructed as lead counsel in R (Vince, Monbiot, Good Law Project) v Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, a claim for judicial review challenging the failure of the Secretary of State to review pursuant to section 6 of the Planning Act 2008 and to suspend pursuant to section 11 of the Planning Act 2008 the Energy National Policy Statements in light of significant developments in legislation, policy, and scientific understanding of climate change since they were designated in 2011. The claim was settled after the Secretary of State agreed to review the NPSs. Alex is now instructed by the same claimants in a further piece of climate litigation.
In R (Sahota) v Herefordshire Alex acts for the Claimant in a Habitats Directive challenge concerning pollution to the River Wye SAC to be heard in May 2021. Other recent work includes two claims settled pre-action challenging reliance on crown immunity to planning control for the erection of two camps for asylum seekers. In R (Cairns) v Hertfordshire CC and Department for Education and others  Env. L.R. 6 Alex acted for the claimant in a challenge to planning permission for a school on grounds related to Habitats; EIA and Green Belt; R (Gardiner) v Herefordshire CC  EWHC 3842 (Admin) (challenge to chicken farm planning permission); R (Norman) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 2910 (Admin);  Env L.R. 14; R (Watermead PC) v Aylesbury Vale DC  P.T.S.R. 43 (defending permission for a crematorium in Court of Appeal).
Public Law, Human Rights, and Civil Liberties
Alex has a broad practice encompassing all aspects of public law including human rights, discrimination, and local government. He has acted in some of the most significant test cases over the past two years.
Recent examples include:
In R (ST and VW) v SSHD  EWHC 1085 (Admin) Alex acted as lead counsel in a JR challenge by British child and foreign mother in the Divisional Court to a decision to deny them recourse to public funds and o the revised no recourse to public funds (“NRPF”) scheme. The Court found the scheme was unlawful on grounds it fails to comply with the duty to treat the best interests of children as a primary consideration.
ST and VW follows R (W (A Child)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Project 17 intervening)  1 W.L.R. 4428;  H.R.L.R. 12; The Times, July 14, 2020;  EWHC 1299 (Admin) in which Alex acted for the successful claimant contending that the “no recourse to public funds” policy was incompatible with article 3 ECHR and the common law ‘law of humanity’.
In R (IJ) v SSHD  EWHC 3487 (Admin); The Times 22 January 2021; Alex acted as sole counsel for the successful Claimant in this challenge to the Home Department’s “permission to work” policy which prohibits migrants from working other than in jobs on the “Shortage Occupation List”. Bourne J upheld the discrimination claim finding that the SSHD failed to treat trafficking victims enjoying rights under the Trafficking Convention differently from ‘ordinary’ asylum seekers.
In R (Vince, Monbiot, Good Law Project) v Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Alex led Anjoli Foster in a claim which settled after the Secretary of State agreed to review the Energy National Policy Statements, as sought by the Claimant.
In R (DMA and Others) v SSHD  EWHC 3416 (Admin);  WLR (D) 683 Alex acted as lead counsel for four claimants in a test case on delays in accommodation for destitute asylum seekers. Robin Knowles J held that the Home Office is in breach of its duties under Article 3 ECHR and common law “law of humanity” and section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to protect destitute people against inhuman and degrading treatment caused by homelessness.
In R (MA and BB) v SSHD (EHRC intervening)  EWHC 1523 (Admin) Alex acted as junior counsel to Stephanie Harrison QC alleging that the Secretary of State fell under a duty pursuant to article 3 ECHR to investigate arguable inhuman and degrading treatment at Brook House detention centre. Alex is now acting for core participants at the resultant Brook House Inquiry.
Alex has specialised in Immigration law for claimants for some time. In the past two years he has acted in a number of the leading cases on immigration law, particularly in test cases challenging government policies.
In R (FB) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1338; The Times 25 November 2020 Alex acted as junior counsel (led by Sonali Naik QC) in a successful appeal in the Court of Appeal by which the Court held that the Home Office policy on removing immigrants from the UK by notifying them of a window of time in which they might be removed was unlawful because, in failing to give sufficient time to people to contact lawyers and mount a legal challenge to removal, it created a serious risk that people’s fundamental common law right of access to justice would be infringed.
In R (Kaitey) v SSHD (Bail for Immigration Detainees Intervening  Q.B. 285;  3 W.L.R. 936 Alex acted as leading counsel for the Claimant contended that on a proper construction of the new scheme for bail contained in schedule 10 to the Immigration Act 2016 a person could not be on bail where it would not be lawful to detain that person for breach of bail. The claim was heard remotely and dismissed, Laing J holding that the bail scheme established a new “status” of being on bail designed to replace the former scheme of TR, TA and bail. An appeal is to be heard in May 2021 in the Court of Appeal.
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. Fordham J released the claimant and clarified the proper tests for interim relief applications of this kind.
In R (Antonio) v SSHD  1 W.L.R. 3431;  I.N.L.R. 259 Alex acted in the Court of Appeal for Mr Antonio on the issue of the lawfulness of a deportation order and lawfulness of detention pending deportation. The remitted case recently settled. Alex also acts for Mr Antonio in his recent appeal in the Upper Tribunal.
Alex has extensive experience of the law of local government including in relation to elections, village greens, information and footpaths. Recent work includes R (Day) v Shropshire Council  EWHC 3539 (Admin) and R (Day) v Shropshire Council  EWCA Civ 1751; The Times, 1 February 2021 in the Court of Appeal raises the question when a local authority disposes of land which is subject to a statutory trust for public recreation without complying with the relevant requirements, does that trust continue or end; and, in either case, what are the legal implications for the authority and the disponee?
As a fellow of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law Alex has worked on the constitutions of 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 NG 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 was awarded the Outstanding Achievement award at the 2021 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year.
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: “A standout junior. Our first choice on a number of judicial review matters because of his ability to find winning points that were not always obvious” (2021); “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 for many years: “He comes up with arguments that others wouldn’t, but which are well worth running.” “He is calm, brilliant and a joy to work with.” “He is very committed and dedicated” (2021); “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: Alex is a stand-out junior whose work has been astoundingly good, of silk quality” (2021); “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
- The Scope of the Inquiry: Advocating for individuals, pressure groups and other potential core participants – presentation slides
- Scope of the COVID-19 Inquiry – paper
- Preparing Now for Next Year’s Covid-19 Public Inquiry – webinar
- BIICL’s webinar series – Rising Sea Levels: Climate Change Litigation before Domestic Courts
- Rising Sea Levels and Climate Change
- Schedule 10 IA 2016 and Bail
- Current Issues in Immigration Detention – webinar
- 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