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Feisty barrister recommendations

(23 Posts)
safeguardingchildren Mon 30-Sep-13 16:19:12

Anyone got any recommendations for really clever, feisty barristers for a judicial review in an education case.

zumbaleena Mon 30-Sep-13 16:56:51

john friel

inappropriatelyemployed Mon 30-Sep-13 18:14:13

Have seen mixed posts on here about barristers so not sure I can help.

hoxtonbabe Mon 30-Sep-13 19:03:39

Depends on if you are going via solicitor or direct access

WetAugust Mon 30-Sep-13 19:47:43

This is your first and only post so I presume you're a name-changer?

If so please PM me and I might be able to tell you who won for us.

safeguardingchildren Mon 30-Sep-13 20:56:47

Got a solicitor. Barrister we wanted can't do it.

Wet - you know who I am mate! You have been helping me loads!

Nigel1 Tue 01-Oct-13 08:56:22

Clive Rawlings; Fiona Scolding; David Lawson all of Hardwicke. They all accept direct access. Are all very good. Do not get confused or mislead by others saying that they act for LAs. They are barristers. They do but a barrister will act for each side and are under an obligation to do their best for each client. I have nothing but the highest regard for each of them.

namechanged667 Tue 01-Oct-13 12:10:36

CR won for us (v expensive residential placement), I can only recommend him.

safeguardingchildren Tue 01-Oct-13 16:13:46

Thanks. I had wondered if it affects attitudes working for LAs.

nennypops Tue 01-Oct-13 22:23:54

David Wolfe, or any of those Nigel1 mentioned. Not J Friel_.

Nigel1 Wed 02-Oct-13 23:44:31

John Friel is one of the most experienced barristers in SEN of his generation. Most of the SEN case law that is used today has his fingers on it somewhere. He is a very good man who cares for his clients. He does have some idiosyncratic ways but once you get past that he is very good.

hoxtonbabe Thu 03-Oct-13 06:14:59

Barristers can/Will act for both sides. As safeguarding mentions it's about if it changes their attitudes and this for me is a bit of an issue.

There are some barristers that are just a bit more pro parent. With that said, there is another barrister at hardwicke that is supposed to be excellent and " pro parent" and she cocked everything up for me to the point of submitting a complaint.

When I explain to solicitors about the issue, I don't even need to say her name but they instantly know as apparently that's the type of stupid thing she does and says....charming eh!

nennypops Thu 03-Oct-13 13:57:25

I think Nigel1 and I have to agree to differ. From what I have heard, all that you say may well have been true in the past and no doubt he is still a good person. That doesn't necessarily make him the right barrister now.

TOWIELA Thu 03-Oct-13 15:35:55

From personal experience, I found John Friel to be a very compassionate professional man and firmly committed to getting the correct help for MY son. When I first met him face-to-face in the Spring of this year, nearly 3 months before Tribunal, he had in front of him my DS's considerable case notes (at that stage over 500 pages). He had clearly read every single page before I met him, and my son's notes had a copious amount of colour-coded index-post-it-notes splattered all over it. At this meeting, he struck me as wanting the correct provision for my DS.

The next time I met him face-to-face was when he represented us at Tribunal (only 3 months ago). By this time, my DS's case notes had grown to over 1,000 pages, and again, he had read every single page and had flagged up all the pages he needed. Also, we had some very dirty (and highly stressful) dealings from the LA less than 48 hours before the Tribunal, resulting in JF personally working on a complex and lengthy legal argument which was submitted as late evidence less then 24 hours before the hearing.

On the day of the hearing, I can only liken him to a conductor totally in charge of his orchestra. He conducted the day's proceedings with the precision of an experienced maestro. He backed the LA into so many corners that they ended up discrediting themselves on several occasions. His timings on backing the LA into these corners was absolutely impeccable and while they were still reeling from the first attack, he immediately followed it up with killer blows.

During the hearing, it become obvious that he had done his homework about my DS's case by researching even more than just my DS's notes on file. He knew information that I hadn't told him (only because I hadn't made the connection that it was important info) and used this information to further rattle the LA. This info also meant that if, during the Tribunal, the LA had attacked me for my home ed provision, they would also be discrediting the majority of their flagship secondary school dyslexia provision in Essex (a bold statement to make, but true). He used this information with precision timing meaning that the LA didn't dare attack me. I didn't tell him this crucial info but he must have found it out from somewhere.

Yes, he is eccentric and not everyone's cup of tea. But I highly regard him. I used him for an appeal against parts 2, 3 & 4.

Sorry, this has slightly de-railed OP request about JR. I know nothing of JF's experience or track record for the JR that are the OP's requirements.

Good luck, OP, in finding the right barrister for your child.

Nigel1 Thu 03-Oct-13 23:37:17

Choosing a barrister is a highly personal choice. The outcomes of that decision can be long lasting.
JF experience of JR is wide ranging and highly knowledgeable. Judges also treat him with the utmost respect.

nennypops Fri 04-Oct-13 00:29:41

Not these days, I'm afraid.

safeguardingchildren Thu 10-Oct-13 19:06:34

Mmm, not sure about the reliability of barristers acting on both sides now.

Just found out the barrister acting for my LA whose conduct through a potential JR has been thoroughly reprehensible is at Hardwicke. LA has been acting on advice of counsel and the dirty tricks they have been getting up to are appalling - tr hying to unpick a child's absence code to relieve themselves of their duty to offer support, lying about agreements reached with school or me refusing assessments. All of which have proven to be false.

So the LA is prepared to pay counsel (and counsel accept tax payer's money) for a case where there is clearly no arguable legal defence.

Utterly disgraceful.

nennypops Thu 10-Oct-13 23:35:05

To be fair, I doubt whether any barrister is advising the LA to lie - it would be the end of his/her career. They're probably doing that one all by themselves.

safeguardingchildren Fri 11-Oct-13 15:21:39

Yet, what appears in writing with JR proceedings pending is almost certainly a result of 'counsel's advice'. Hence the flurry of new 'tactics'.

Nanny01 Fri 11-Oct-13 15:56:28

Debra Hay hardwicke was the lady that prepared our paper work, fortunately didn't have to use her services as the lea agreed to the school we wanted. She represented several families at my sons school.

NotNewHereAlias Tue 22-Oct-13 14:13:31

Bumping, because I think we need one now sad

Quite a complex case, with an additional technical issue re evidence
Happy to say who I am if you prefer to PM me

manishkmehta Tue 10-Dec-13 02:24:21

JR, if I am not mistaken can be undertaken only on legal aid, unless you a very rich man/woman... If you need legal aid if your child’s name then you will need (if I am not mistaken) a letter on record from a solicitor spelling out the injustice, I assume in most cases Section 324 (5) (a) (I) of the Education Act 1996

With that out of the way, the solicitors will ring around chambers to see who is free. As you might not know there are plenty of LEAs supposedly breaking the law and many parents attempting JR at any given time. Hence the shortage of good barristers as they are all busy with cases.

They key to success is to find a solicitor who can get legal aid... If I am not wrong (please correct me) Maxwell Gillott ( are the only LAW firm with a legal aid franchise / certificate... you could go to the other two "non law firm" organizations, but personally I’d stick with MG.

MG will look will look at your case and will charge a "Small" fee to send out a pre-action protocol letter so as to see what the other side is saying, i.e. is there really a case for JR.

If there is a case for JR you will be asked to fill out lots of forms for legal aid in your child’s name.... Now comes the key question... Who is free for the hearing date...? The hearing date is not set by you, or your solicitors, but by the courts... In short, the barrister you get will be determined by the hearing date.

Personally my choice of barristers are Clive Rawlings & David Lawson. However, I prefer Matrix Chambers personally, and like Nick Armstrong as I have heard very good things about him...

Additionally I have heard very good things about John McKendrick,

More recently I am hearing VERY good things about Tom Cross ( who was key in the recent decisions of Harrow Council v AM [2013] UKUT 157 (AAC) [2013] ELR 351 & Bury Metropolitan Borough Council v Usman
[2010] UKUT 406 (AAC) --- please note that if I am not mistaken Tom is doing some of his work (I believe for free) for IPSEA - so clearly a man with a conscience. It only takes a few good men like him to make a difference.

In short... you will not know who the best barrister is for your case, but you will need to do your homework. The key is to trust your solicitor.

If you to chat please get in touch,

manishkmehta Tue 10-Dec-13 02:35:27

Oh... think about this and correct me if I’m wrong...
There are only 3 firms in the country with a SEN legal aid licence
If they take on cases and lose, the taxpayer pays for the loss... in short, it won't be long before they lose their legal aid licence if they keep losing cases.

As you can see the economics of this system make sense... The solicitors will only take on cases that have "merit" i.e. can be won... then they will want to do everything they can win,... so they will look for the best barrister... it's not in their interest to lose your case... the more cases they lose, the more likely they will lose their legal aid licence... the government is not in the business of giving out legal aid licences to losers.... after all it's tax payers money and has to be accounted for, right?

Please correct me if I am wrong.

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