Damien's practice concentrates on two areas of Public Law: governance, powers, and decision-making in local authorities and public organisations; and, Information Law (Data Protection, Freedom of Information, and the Environmental Information Regulations or "EIR").
He is ranked as a leading Junior for Administrative and Public Law in the Legal 500 2015, and for Data Protection in Chambers and Partners 2015.
Damien came to the Bar in 2001 following a career in local government. This gives him a unique understanding and background knowledge from which his public authority clients benefit in addition to his legal expertise.
Damien has authored a number of articles for publications such as Westlaw UK Insight, the Freedom of Information Journal and Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law. He also provides training for lawyers and practitioners in areas such as local authority governance, councillor conduct, and information law
Governance, powers and decision-making
On governance, powers and decision-making, he has a particular focus on areas of change arising from new legislation or guidance, such as the introduction of executive decision-making and constitutions in local government, wide general powers for local authorities (originally the power of "well-being", and now the general power of competence), successive conduct regimes for local authority councillors, and frequent changes to local government finance rules. He has advised or acted for public authorities in all of these areas, including on issues such as:
- innovative council financial schemes;
- proposed changes to governance structures;
- innovative property schemes involving charities;
- proposed trading by public bodies;
- local authority charging powers;
- council tax referendum; and
- the impact of EU state aids rules on housing investment, and regeneration schemes.
He has drafted, or substantially amended, council constitutions and a substantial delegation scheme to schools (including extensive consultation on the latter).
Damien is a contributor to Cornerstone on Councillors' Conduct, the definitive guide to local government standards, produced by Cornerstone Barristers.
FOI and data protection
Damien specialises in providing clients with knowledgeable counsel when there is a serious reputational or legal risk in relation to FOI and data protection issues. His experience includes representing clients in successful appeals over disclosure of:
- commercially confidential information in a planning viability assessment;
- a planning appraisal report;
- draft committee documents, and officer correspondence;
- legal advice and property information; and;
- information on public rights of way.
Damien has successfully defended a personal data compensation claim for a local authority and he advises regularly on subject access requests, disclosure under FOI/EIR requests, the scope of environmental information, and schemes for the sharing of personal data.
Damien is available to be instructed on a retainer basis on Information Law matters, giving up to 100 hours of advice, drafting, guidance or training over a year, for a cost-effective single fee. For further details please contact the clerks on 020 7242 4986 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.