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Philip Kolvin

Dr Alex Williams

Called
2017
Telephone
020 7242 4986
Clerk
Sam Collins
CV
Email

Alex accepts instructions in all of Chambers' core areas.

Alex's broad practice focusses heavily on public law and human rights, with an emphasis on social housing, planning and licensing, but also includes aspects of commercial and information law.

Alex advises, drafts and regularly appears in both the civil and criminal courts for central and local government and private clients. His work with senior members of Chambers has given him experience of appellate litigation at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court level.

Clients value Alex's analytical ability and forensic approach to the issues. He is often instructed to appear, unled, against far more experienced barristers. As one instructing solicitor has commented:

"Alex conducted a complex planning case with calmness, thoroughness and politeness. His closing submissions were excellent and unravelled some complex issues that enabled the court to understand the case much better. I have no doubt that his advocacy was a significant reason for our success. I shall be instructing Alex again and have already recommended him to others."

Before becoming a barrister Alex was a Lecturer in Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights Centre at Durham University, where for 10 years he published books and articles and taught constitutional law, human rights and judicial review to undergraduates and postgraduates. He is an experienced public lawyer with extensive, high-level and internationally-recognised expertise in the field.

Alex's academic research and PhD concerned the applicability of judicial review and human rights obligations to non-state actors. His research is particularly relevant to hybrid bodies such as housing associations who are facing public-law challenge, whether as defendants to a claim or as claimants on the receiving end of a public-law defence. He has advised on the matter both as an academic and as a barrister. He also acted as a consultant to the Law Commission on its misconduct in public office project.

Alex has published widely in high-profile academic and practitioner journals such as the Law Quarterly Review, Modern Law Review, Public Law, Judicial Review and Journal of Planning & Environment Law. He has lectured to expert audiences both in the UK and abroad, in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, the Netherlands, Singapore and Switzerland. He is co-author of a major public-law textbook, Text, Cases and Materials on Public Law and Human Rights (4th edn, Routledge, 2016), which is core reading on many undergraduate law courses in England and Wales. He is a contributor to LexisPSL on human rights issues.

Alex studied at Cambridge (BA, MA) and Durham (MJur, PhD), receiving several awards for academic and mooting achievement. In addition to his tenured post at Durham University he has held visiting fellowships at Cambridge University, University College London and UNSW, Sydney.

Overview

Alex is a seasoned public lawyer. Keen to apply his considerable research expertise in the field to his practice, he is regularly instructed on public law and human rights matters across a range of different fields including local government, housing, licensing, planning and information.

Recent experience includes:

  • R (Humber Landlords Association) v Hull City Council [2019] EWHC 332 (Admin): defended Hull City Council against a judicial review challenge to its decision to revise its policy on private sector housing enforcement (led by Wayne Beglan).
  • Acting for local authorities defending homelessness decisions in judicial review proceedings and public-law appeals brought under s 204 of the Housing Act 1996.
  • Acting for landlords in possession claims and injunction proceedings involving public-law defences including under the Human Rights Act 1998 and Equality Act 2010.
  • Acting for the local planning authority in proceedings concerning the interpretation of the ouster provision in s 171BB(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
  • Acting for the defendant in a planning enforcement prosecution involving Human Rights Act 1998 issues.
  • Acting for the Government in civil proceedings concerning the scope of the power to remove untaxed vehicles from the highway.
  • Dulgheriu v Ealing London Borough Council [2018] EWHC 1667 (Admin): as a pupil, assisted Kuljit Bhogal and Tara O'Leary in their defence of a Public Spaces Protection Order creating a no-protest zone around the local Marie Stopes clinic.
  • Davies v Hertfordshire County Council [2018] EWCA 379: as a pupil, assisted Andy Lane and Tara O'Leary in resisting an appeal on public-law grounds against a local authority's decision to repossess tied accommodation from a former school caretaker.
  • R (Cherished Marks Sussex Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport (April 2018, Administrative Court, unreported): as a pupil, assisted Estelle Dehon in defending a judicial review claim in respect of the Government's vehicle licensing regime.

Cases

Secretary of State rejects plans for up to 1600 dwellings in Braintree, NPPF para 170 on valued landscapes is considered
12.07.2019
The case The Secretary of State has recently dismissed Acorn Braintree Ltd's appeal concerning a proposal for up to 1600 dwellings and associated development on approximately 56.5ha of land on the....

High Court upholds Council’s enforcement policy on private sector landlords
12.03.2019

R (Humber Landlords Association) v Hull City Council [2019] EWHC 332 (Admin)

....

News

Obiter remarks now binding: Court of Appeal (radically) alters doctrine of precedent
04.05.2020
Last week a five-judge Court of Appeal handed down R v Barton and Booth [2020] EWCA Crim 575. The decision establishes that R v Ghosh [1982] QB 1053, on dishonesty....

New recommendations for councillors from Committee on Standards in Public Life
05.02.2019
On 30 January 2019, the Committee on Standards in Public Life published its long-awaited report on local government ethical standards, reflecting evidence obtained via a consultation exercise carried out from....

Overview

Alex regularly acts for local authorities, housing associations and private landlords in relation to housing matters including:

  • homelessness, including judicial review challenges and appeals under s 204 of the Housing Act 1996;
  • housing allocation policy;
  • injunctions, including for anti-social behaviour;
  • proceedings for possession on grounds including anti-social behaviour, failed succession, unlawful sub-letting and rent arrears;
  • possession/injunction proceedings involving complex public law, Equality Act and/or human rights defences;
  • housing disrepair;
  • recovery of service charges;
  • housing benefit, including recovery appeals;
  • trespass claims against persons unknown;
  • houses in multiple occupation, including licensing prosecutions;
  • council tax liability;
  • closure orders, including appeals.

Alex has also delivered training to solicitors and lay clients on aspects of housing law, including:

  • the lifting of the Coronavirus possession claim stay;
  • public-law defences to possession claims;
  • strategy for landlords in possession proceedings;
  • housing disrepair, including landlords' obligations under the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

Cases

High Court upholds Council’s enforcement policy on private sector landlords
12.03.2019

R (Humber Landlords Association) v Hull City Council [2019] EWHC 332 (Admin)

....

Events

Cornerstone Barristers Housing Conference 2018
02.10.2018

1
Hosted by the Cornerstone Housing Team, the conference will provide a thorough analysis of the latest developments in housing law and policy, as well as practical advice on a wide....

Seminar - Public law defences to possession claims
06.06.2018

1
This seminar seeks to explain and explore the myriad public law and discrimination challenges often seen in defences to residential possession claims brought on discretionary and/or mandatory grounds. It is aimed....

Overview

Alex is instructed by planning consultants, local government and private clients. His practice covers both court and appeal/inquiry work and has included:

  • representing the LPA at a major 3-week planning inquiry involving a proposed development of up to 1600 residential dwellings (led by Emma Dring);
  • representing the LPA as sole counsel at a 3-day inquiry involving Extra Care, C2/C3 use class and heritage issues;
  • advising developers on  the implications under Class O and Class Q GPDO of failing to comply with conditions relating to specified plans;
  • advising a developer on issues concerning inconsistent permissions and the Pilkington principle;
  • advising on the TCPA provisions concerning minor material and non-material amendments;
  • advising on applications to modify planning obligations under s 106A TCPA;
  • securing, and delivering training on, planning enforcement orders in the Magistrates' Court;
  • enforcement proceedings, including visual amenity prosecutions under s 216 TCPA 1990;
  • defending the LPA at an appeal concerning Class O rights under under the GPDO;
  • as a pupil, assisting Estelle Dehon with formulating the arguments for two High Court hearings: Amstel Group Corp v SSCLG [2018] EWHC 633 (Admin) and Squire v Shropshire Council [2018] EWHC 1730 (Admin).
  • as a pupil, drafting grounds of appeal to the Supreme Court.

Cases

Planning enforcement orders, time limits and self-certification
16.04.2020
Introduced into the TCPA 1990 by the Localism Act 2011, planning enforcement orders (PEOs) are a powerful tool for local planning authorities (LPAs) seeking to enforce against breaches of planning....

Secretary of State rejects plans for up to 1600 dwellings in Braintree, NPPF para 170 on valued landscapes is considered
12.07.2019
The case The Secretary of State has recently dismissed Acorn Braintree Ltd's appeal concerning a proposal for up to 1600 dwellings and associated development on approximately 56.5ha of land on the....

News

Response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee's inquiry on fracking
24.04.2018
Some of our planning barristers have responded to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee's inquiry into planning guidance on fracking. You can read the response here.  Our barristers have extensive experience in....

Events

Zoom webinar - Planning Enforcement Orders: Law and Practice
25.06.2020


Planning enforcement orders are a powerful - but heavily under-used - tool for local planning authorities wishing to take enforcement action. Joe Cannon and Alex Williams provide much-needed practical tips for....

Overview

Alex is keen to continue building on his experience in the commercial law field. He has experience of commercial matters involving a wide range of issues including:

  • misrepresentation;
  • consumer credit;
  • bailment;
  • liens;
  • restitution;
  • banking chargebacks under the Visa Core Rules;
  • commercial tenancies;
  • restrictive covenants.

As junior to Philip Coppel QC, he was recently involved with drafting pleadings in complex High Court litigation involving a global investment bank.

Overview

Alex has experience of both freedom of information and data protection law including the new GDPR, on which he has given training to local authorities and housing associations. As a pupil he assisted Estelle Dehon with the drafting of a complex information sharing agreement between a number of public authorities.

Overview

Alex is regularly instructed in licensing matters. Recent experience includes:

  • defending a local authority against a restitution claim relating to the setting of taxi licensing fees (led by Philip Kolvin QC);
  • acting as legal advisor to licensing sub-committees at public hearings;
  • acting for local authorities in Crown Court licensing appeals;
  • acting for local authorities in licensing prosecutions relating to houses in multiple occupation;
  • before the First-tier Tribunal, defending a local authority's refusal to issue a number of licences to the landlord of houses in multiple occupation.

Overview

Alex acts for public and private clients in relation to diverse property matters including:

  • forfeiture of commercial leases;
  • Mexfield tenancies;
  • assignment of tenancies;
  • easements;
  • restrictive covenants;
  • rights to light.

Cases

High Court upholds Council’s enforcement policy on private sector landlords
12.03.2019

R (Humber Landlords Association) v Hull City Council [2019] EWHC 332 (Admin)

....

Alex's journal publications as at:

15th September 2020

  • 'Public Authorities and the HRA 1998: Recent Trends II' [2020] Judicial Review (forthcoming).
  • 'Planning Enforcement Orders, Time Limits and Self-Certification under Section 171BB TCPA 1990' [2020] Journal of Planning & Environment Law 224-230.
  • 'The Pointlessness of Section 6(5) HRA 1998' [2018] Judicial Review 128-144.
  • 'Judicial Review and Monopoly Power: Some Sceptical Thoughts' (2017) 133 Law Quarterly Review 656-682.
  • 'Public Authorities and the HRA 1998: Recent Trends' [2017] Judicial Review 247-262.
  • 'Public Functions and Amenability: Recent Trends' [2017] Judicial Review 15-26.
  • 'The British Bill of Rights Debate: Lessons from Australia' [2016] Public Law 471-490 (with George Williams).
  • Text, Cases and Materials on Public Law and Human Rights (4th edn, Routledge, 2016) (with Helen Fenwick and Gavin Phillipson).
  • 'Strasbourg's Public-Private Divide and the British Bill of Rights' [2015] European Human Rights Law Review 617-630.
  • 'Public and Private: Neither Deep Nor Meaningful?', in Kit Barker and Darryn Jensen (eds), Private Law: Key Encounters with Public Law (Cambridge University Press, 2013) 45-88 (with William Lucy).
  • 'The Scope of Section 6 HRA Revisited' UK Constitutional Law Blog (28 October 2013)
  • 'Horizontal Effect and the Constitutional Constraint' (2011) 74(6) Modern Law Review 878-910 (with Gavin Phillipson).
  • 'A Fresh Perspective on Hybrid Public Authorities under the Human Rights Act: Private Contractors, Rights-Stripping and "Chameleonic" Horizontal Effect' [2011] Public Law 139-163.
  • 'What is a Public Authority?', in David Hoffman (ed), The Impact of the UK Human Rights Act on Private Law (Cambridge University Press, 2011) 48-65.
  • 'Devolution', in Helen Fenwick and Gavin Phillipson, Text, Cases and Materials on Public Law and Human Rights (3rd edn, Routledge, 2010) 232-294 (with Gavin Phillipson).
  • 'YL v Birmingham City Council: Contracting out and "functions of a public nature"' [2008] European Human Rights Law Review 524-531.

The primacy of the policy in housing law (Humber Landlords Association v Hull City Council)

18th March 2019

In this article published by LexisNexis, Wayne Beglan and Dr Alex Williams discuss Humber Landlords Association v Hull City Council [2019] EWHC 332 (Admin), [2019] All ER (D) 62 (Mar), a case of practical importance to all public authorities engaged in the drafting or revision of policies. 

The judgment serves as a stark reminder of the court's central role in interpreting the policy and, in turn, the primacy of the policy itself. It demonstrates that claimants who rely less on the words of the policy and more on individual council officers' summaries of it are unlikely to advance their cases very far.

You can read the article in full here

  • Administrative Law Bar Association
  • Planning and Environment Bar Association

News: Public Law and Judicial Review

Obiter remarks now binding: Court of Appeal (radically) alters doctrine of precedent

4th May 2020

Last week a five-judge Court of Appeal handed down R v Barton and Booth [2020] EWCA Crim 575. The decision establishes that R v Ghosh [1982] QB 1053, on dishonesty....

Case: Planning and Environment

Planning enforcement orders, time limits and self-certification

16th April 2020

Introduced into the TCPA 1990 by the Localism Act 2011, planning enforcement orders (PEOs) are a powerful tool for local planning authorities (LPAs) seeking to enforce against breaches of planning....

Case: Public Law and Judicial Review, Planning and Environment

Secretary of State rejects plans for up to 1600 dwellings in Braintree, NPPF para 170 on valued landscapes is considered

12th July 2019

The case The Secretary of State has recently dismissed Acorn Braintree Ltd's appeal concerning a proposal for up to 1600 dwellings and associated development on approximately 56.5ha of land on the....

Case: Public Law and Judicial Review, Housing, Property, Local Government

High Court upholds Council’s enforcement policy on private sector landlords

12th March 2019

R (Humber Landlords Association) v Hull City Council [2019] EWHC 332 (Admin)

....

News: Public Law and Judicial Review, Local Government

New recommendations for councillors from Committee on Standards in Public Life

5th February 2019

On 30 January 2019, the Committee on Standards in Public Life published its long-awaited report on local government ethical standards, reflecting evidence obtained via a consultation exercise carried out from....

News: Planning and Environment

Response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee's inquiry on fracking

24th April 2018

Some of our planning barristers have responded to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee's inquiry into planning guidance on fracking. You can read the response here.  Our barristers have extensive experience in....