Tom Morris

Call: 2016
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Practice Summary

Tom joined Landmark Chambers at the beginning of 2018, and has developed a busy practice in all areas of property, planning, and costs law.  He is regularly instructed to appear in the High Court, County Court and First Tier Tribunal on behalf of developers and landowners (including local authorities), as well as on behalf of commercial, charitable and residential landlords and tenants.  He has a particular focus on all areas of the law relating to the development of land.

Tom has appeared in a number of fast-track and multi-track trials arising out of landlord and tenant disputes.  He is presently instructed:

  • By a local highway authority in an upcoming two-day trial concerning the status of a piece of land adjoining the highway.
  • In a boundary dispute involving adverse possession claims and expert evidence.
  • In an upcoming trial to determine whether a forfeiture was lawful.
  • In an upcoming trial over the validity and effect of property notices.
  • In an upcoming two-day hearing to determine whether a number of charging orders should be discharged.

Previous notable appearances include the following:

Kabir v Sagoo (2018, unreported, Central London County Court, HHJ Sagerson): appeared for the defendant landlords in a 1954 Act lease-renewal trial, turning on ground (c) (other breaches of covenant).  Although the judge held that the breaches were not ‘serious or significant’, the claimant tenant made a number of important concessions over the course of an 80-minute cross examination, resulting in the defendants’ cost liability being reduced by nearly two-thirds in the following summary assessment.

Blair v Metropolitan Housing Trust (2018, unreported, Edmonton County Court, DJ Cohen): appeared for the successful defendant and counter-claimant in a one-day fast track trial involving the law of bailment and conversion under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 in the context of a possession claim.

Hare v Awad: successfully obtained the discharge of a number of charging orders against the background of a complex trust dispute.

Miller & Ors v Hirani: appeared for the successful tenants in a disputed enfranchisement claim.  The hearing before the FTT turned entirely on the deferment rate and on the relativity rate.  Under cross examination, the landlord’s valuer made a serious of concessions and admissions.  The FTT was persuaded that the landlord’s valuer was wrong to take into account the Upper Tribunal’s decision in Reiss v Ironhawk, since the valuation date preceded that decision.  The Tribunal was also persuaded that the landlord’s valuer’s reliance on a Savills graph in valuing a property outside Prime Central London was misplaced.

Tom has also appeared in a number of successful section 168 applications before the First Tier Tribunal, and in successful applications concerning liability to pay service charges.

In the planning context, Tom has recently advised a Parish Council and Town Council in relation to their opposition to applications for planning permissions for 100 and 300 new dwellings.  In both cases, Tom drafted submissions for the relevant planning committee hearings, resulting in both applications being refused for the reasons advanced by the Parish and Town Council.

In relation to costs law, Tom has appeared in a number of costs applications concerning the right to detailed assessment.

He has also recently been instructed by the Legal Aid Agency to appear in the High Court to respond to a series of applications made in the context of a long-running cost dispute.

Before joining Landmark, Tom was Special Adviser to Rt Hon. Kenneth Clarke QC MP in the Cabinet Office, covering a wide-ranging home affairs and security brief, and previously worked as a Parliamentary Assistant to Rt Hon. Ben Gummer MP.  Tom graduated from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, with a first class degree in History and a Masters in the History and Philosophy of Science.  He was graded outstanding on the BPTC, winning the University of Law’s prize for the highest mark in the opinion-writing exam.  At university, Tom also won a full blue for cycling, was the national student time trial championship over 25 miles, twice silver medallist over 10 miles and varsity champion both on road and off-road.

Property

Tom’s property practice is wide-ranging.  He is regularly instructed in matters ranging from multitrack and fast track trials and complex service charge and s.168 hearings in the First Tier Tribunal, through to possession hearings, strikeout and summary judgment hearings, and relief from sanction hearings.   Recent appearances have included the following:

  • Obtaining orders for possession of properties let under tenancies protected by the Rent Act 1977 and Housing Act 1988.
  • Obtaining possession orders against trespassers, and injunctive relief against trespassers.
  • Obtaining an urgent possession order in the High Court in a trespass case affecting infrastructure of national importance, on the same day as obtaining an order abridging time for service to a few hours.
  • Obtaining possession orders against mortgagors.
  • Obtaining orders for possession of commercial premises on grounds of forfeiture; successfully resisting applications for relief from forfeiture; successfully obtaining relief from forfeiture (in one case ten minutes after being instructed).
  • Successfully obtaining an ex parte interim injunction in favour of a business owner who had been unlawfully evicted, having been instructed only the evening before.
  • Securing the discharge of multiple charging orders from multiple properties against the background of a complex trust dispute.
  • Obtaining third party debt orders in the High Court.
  • Obtaining non-party disclosure orders.
  • Appearing on behalf of an appellant against Westminster Council’s determination that she was voluntarily homeless, involving multiple successful applications before HHJ Luba in Central London County Court over the course of a whole day.
  • Appearing in hearings relating to disputes under the old and new telecommunications codes, and in contested lease renewal hearings under the 1954 Act.

Tom’s drafting and advisory work encompasses all areas of property law.  Recent advisory work has included:

  • The construction of a wide range of contractual terms, leasehold covenants, easements, and restrictive covenants.
  • Conveyancing disputes.
  • The law of forfeiture and relief against forfeiture.
  • The law of mortgages and receivership.
  • The law of trespass and nuisance, including in relation to invasive weeds.
  • Professional negligence in the conveyancing context.
  • Boundary disputes, the Party Wall Act, adverse possession and highways disputes.
  • Issues relating to rights of way and restrictive covenants.
  • Issues of co-ownership and the law of trusts in the property context, including the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act.
  • Telecommunications matters.
  • Cases involving rent review disputes, and disrepair.
  • Cases involving unlawful penalty clauses.

As junior to David Elvin QC, Tom advised a developer on a complicated highways dispute with the local authority.  As a pupil, Tom also worked on cases involving misrepresentation, proprietary estoppel, rectification and a variety of equitable remedies.

Planning and Compulsory Purchase

Tom has a particular interest in those areas where public and private law concerns overlap.

Tom recently advised a Parish Council in relation to a planning application for the development of 300 houses, and drafted submissions for the planning committee, resulting in the application being refused permission in spite of the officer’s recommendation to grant permission.

Tom has also recently advised a Town Council in relation to a planning application for the development of 100 houses.  Tom drafted and presented submissions at the planning committee meeting, resulting in the application being deferred in order for the highways issues identified by the Town Council to be rectified (in spite of the officer’s recommendation to grant permission)  Tom drafted further submissions for Town Council to present to the planning committee when it considered the revised application, resulting in permission being refused, in spite of the officer’s recommendation to grant permission.

Tom has also drafted responses to letters before claim on behalf of local authorities.

Tom has also appeared on behalf of defendants in the Magistrates’ Court on planning, council tax and environmental enforcement issues.

Separately, he has advised:

  • On a development turning on issues including the need for planning permission, planning enforcement, and parallel issues of landlord and tenant law.
  • Commercial clients on enforcement matters generally.
  • A developer on the applicability of GDPO rights to a development on green belt land.
  • Local authorities on the construction of planning permissions, including historical permissions.
  • Local authorities on time limits on the commencement of development.
  • On breach of condition notices.
  • On neighborhood plan-making
  • On the applicability of human rights law to challenges to compulsory purchase orders.

Tom has also worked with David Elvin QC on the interaction between the law of compulsory purchase and human rights.  Also led by David Elvin QC, Tom has worked on ransom value in the CPO context.

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Costs

Tom is developing a busy costs practice.  He has appeared in a number of hearings turning on entitlement to detailed assessment, as well as in detailed assessments.  Separately, Tom has advised on:

  • The assignment of CFA agreements.
  • The cost consequences of Part 36 offers.
  • The relationship between Part 36 and detailed assessment.
  • The applicability of fixed costs in RTA protocol disputes.

Tom has recently been instructed by the Legal Aid Agency to appear in the High Court to respond to a number of applications in the context of a long-running cost dispute, successfully resisting applications for relief under the Crown Proceedings Act.

Tom has also worked with David Holland QC on solicitors’ liens.

Qualifications

  • Cambridge University (Corpus Christi College), BA History (First Class)
  • Cambridge Unviersity (Corpus Christi College), MSci History and Philosophy of Science
  • GDL, BPP University
  • BPTC, University of Law (Oustanding, top of year in Opinion Writing)

Scholarships and Prizes

  • Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: Manners Scholarship (for performance in Part I exams)
  • Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: Intermediate Exhibition (for performance in Part II exams)
  • Middle Temple: Queen Mother Scholarship
  • Middle Temple: Astbury Scholarship
  • Middle Temple: Certificate of Merit (for performance in BPTC exams)
  • Middle Temple: Harmsworth Entrance Award
  • University of Law: President’s Scholarship
  • University of Law: Prize for coming top of year in opinion-writing exam
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