020 7242 4986 or  0333 240 0591 London  |  Birmingham  |  Cardiff
Philip Kolvin

Dr Alex Williams

Called
2017
Telephone
020 7242 4986
Clerk
Daryl Hughes
CV
Email

Alex is a seasoned public lawyer with years of high-level academic experience to underpin his growing High Court practice. He has particular expertise in public-law issues relating to planning, housing and licensing.

He advises, drafts and regularly appears in court and at public inquiries 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 including Queen's Counsel.

Overview

Cases

In Finch the Court of Appeal declines to define significant indirect effects for EIA
17.02.2022

R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2022] EWCA Civ 187

....

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

Net Zero and downstream emissions in Court of Appeal this week
15.11.2021
On 16-17 November 2021, the Court of Appeal will hear an appeal against the judgment of Holgate J in R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin). The case....

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

Cases

In Finch the Court of Appeal declines to define significant indirect effects for EIA
17.02.2022

R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2022] EWCA Civ 187

....

EIA in a climate emergency
30.12.2020
R (Finch) v Surrey CC [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin) On 21 December 2020, Mr Justice Holgate dismissed this challenge to the grant of planning permission for the commercial extraction of oil at....

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

Net Zero and downstream emissions in Court of Appeal this week
15.11.2021
On 16-17 November 2021, the Court of Appeal will hear an appeal against the judgment of Holgate J in R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin). The case....

Cornerstone Planning Day 2021 - Tickets available
20.09.2021
The Cornerstone Planning Team is delighted to host its annual planning conference on Monday 8 November at Royal College of Surgeons of England. Aimed at planning specialists, solicitors, and policy makers, this....

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: 'Grasping the nettle' - the role of previous inconsistent decisions in planning
10.02.2022


To what extent does a planning decision-maker have to have regard to previous decisions about the same or similar development? When do you have to 'grasp the nettle' of any....

Cornerstone Barristers Planning Day 2021
08.11.2021

1
The Cornerstone Planning Team is delighted to invite you to its annual planning conference. Aimed at planning specialists, solicitors, and policy makers, this year's conference will specifically focus on the practical....

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

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

Books and journal publications as at:

22nd April 2022

  • Cornerstone on the Planning Court (2nd edn, Bloomsbury, 2021) (with various).
  • 'Public Authorities and the HRA 1998: Recent Trends' [2020] Judicial Review 179-190.
  • '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.

Lexis®PSL: Indirect effects—the scope of the environmental impact assessment (Finch v Surrey County Council)

11th January 2021

The Planning Court has dismissed an application for judicial review which sought to challenge and to quash the defendant local planning authority’s decision to grant planning permission for the commercial extraction of crude oil. The claimant’s main argument was that the greenhouse gas emissions from combustion of products for which the oil is a raw material, notably vehicle and aeroplane fuel, must be subject to assessment within the environmental impact assessment (EIA) required before granting permission.

Mr Justice Holgate decisively held otherwise, focusing on the development project itself and holding that these ‘downstream’ emissions are not capable of being indirect effects of the development. The defendant’s EIA obligations did not require it to assess the impact of greenhouse gas emissions arising from the consumption of oil produced at the site, which might take place anywhere in the world. Other grounds, including a claim that the defendant had misinterpreted paragraph 183 NPPF, or that it is not a lawful policy, were dependent upon success in the main ground, and failed.

You can read the article in full here.

This analysis, by Harriet Townsend and Dr Alex Williams, who acted for Surrey County Council (the defendant in these proceedings), was first published on Lexis®PSL on 11 January 2021 and can be found here (subscription required).

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

Case: Public Law and Judicial Review, Planning and Environment

In Finch the Court of Appeal declines to define significant indirect effects for EIA

17th February 2022

R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2022] EWCA Civ 187

....

News: Public Law and Judicial Review, Planning and Environment, Inquests and Inquiries, Local Government

Net Zero and downstream emissions in Court of Appeal this week

15th November 2021

On 16-17 November 2021, the Court of Appeal will hear an appeal against the judgment of Holgate J in R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin). The case....

News: Planning and Environment

Cornerstone Planning Day 2021 - Tickets available

20th September 2021

The Cornerstone Planning Team is delighted to host its annual planning conference on Monday 8 November at Royal College of Surgeons of England. Aimed at planning specialists, solicitors, and policy makers, this....

Case:

BBC reporting of court proceedings a “catalogue of serious errors”

8th February 2021

The BBC has been fined £28,000 for contempt of court for making an unauthorised recording of court proceedings, and for broadcasting a short extract from that recording in two news....

Case: Planning and Environment

EIA in a climate emergency

30th December 2020

R (Finch) v Surrey CC [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin) On 21 December 2020, Mr Justice Holgate dismissed this challenge to the grant of planning permission for the commercial extraction of oil at....

Case:

Net Zero and downstream emissions in court this week

16th November 2020

On 17-18 November 2020, the High Court will hear judicial review claim CO/4441/2019 challenging the grant of planning permission by Surrey County Council to Horse Hill Developments Ltd for production....

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....

Net Zero and downstream emissions in Court of Appeal this week

15th November 2021

On 16-17 November 2021, the Court of Appeal will hear an appeal against the judgment of Holgate J in R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin). The case....

EIA in a climate emergency

30th December 2020

R (Finch) v Surrey CC [2020] EWHC 3566 (Admin) On 21 December 2020, Mr Justice Holgate dismissed this challenge to the grant of planning permission for the commercial extraction of oil at....

Net Zero and downstream emissions in court this week

16th November 2020

On 17-18 November 2020, the High Court will hear judicial review claim CO/4441/2019 challenging the grant of planning permission by Surrey County Council to Horse Hill Developments Ltd for production....