At White Horse Solicitors & Notary Public, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients and fighting the discrimination that occurs in many parts of the public sphere. We protect the rights and freedoms of many of our clients who believe their human rights have been breached in some form.
We have a very experienced and skilful team who are not afraid to go the distance in protecting you. Our primary concern is that your rights are protected and we will go the extra mile to ensure that you’re satisfied with the outcome. We are also very easy to talk to and will give you legal advice which you can understand and appreciate.
The Human Rights Act of 1998 sets out fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. Public bodies such as the police, councils, schools and local authorities all have a duty to make sure these rights are protected.
Human rights underpin every aspect of our lives, but some of the key principles involve:
If you believe you have suffered an infringement of these rights, we could help you make a claim. Our expert solicitors have extensive experience challenging human rights abuses in many areas, including:
If you or a loved one has suffered due to police misconduct, our expert lawyers could help you get the answers and the compensation you deserve. Our dedicated team of solicitors have extensive experience bringing claims against almost every major police force in England and Wales. We could help you if you have been the victim of:
If you believe you’ve been unfairly treated by the police, or by other detaining authorities, we have the expertise and experience to help bring your case to justice. Call us today on 020 7118 1778 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.
Every day, thousands of people across the UK depend on health and social care services. But when care services fail or are cut, it can leave you vulnerable and at risk. At White Horse Solicitors & Notary Public we have years of experience helping clients challenge health and social care decisions at the highest levels.
Usually, the level of health and social care we receive is excellent and aligned to our needs. However, given recent budget cuts to public services, that service can be denied, cutting you off from the care you need and leaving you unsure of where to turn for help.
If you, a loved one or someone you care for depends on health or social services, taking a dispute up with an NHS Trust or local authority can be daunting. Our expert healthcare and social services solicitors understand that your well-being comes first and will help you access the care you need while pursuing your case.
We’ve helped our clients with virtually every aspect of health and social care law, including:
If you’ve had your quality of life affected by a health or social care decision and would like to speak to a legal expert, then either contact us online or call us on 020 7118 1778 to see how we can help.
Every child deserves a good education but unfortunately not everyone always gets the support they need. Our Education Law solicitors can help make sure your child gets the best start in life.
Some examples of areas we can help you are as follows:
We can also help schools and education professionals who are defending against claims, challenging funding decisions, facing regulatory investigation or in disputes about SEN provisions.
Education Law cases can be quite complicated, requiring multiple stages of complaints, appeals and referrals to different organisations. Our education law solicitors will guide you through this process with friendly, professional support and help you resolve your dispute as quickly as possible.
To find out more about how the Public Law & Human Rights team can help you, contact us online or speak to a member of our team by calling 020 7118 1778.
Public bodies collect a significant amount of sensitive information about people and have a duty to use and store this data responsibly. If you have suffered financially or emotionally due to a public body mishandling your personal information, you may be able to make a Data Protection Compensation claim.
You have the right for your personal information to be kept private and organisations can cause serious damage if they allow your data to get into the public domain. There can also be severe consequences if incorrect data is stored about you – incorrect medical records could prevent vital treatment and mistaken criminal history records could destroy your employment prospects.
The Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act set out rules to protect you and your personal data. However, public bodies such as the NHS, police and Local Authorities sometimes breach these rules put you at risk by:
Your rights are infringed when a public body commits any of these errors. Our Data Protection solicitors are experienced in enforcing data corrections and removals when public bodies have made mistakes.
Data breaches can and do cause serious and lasting damage. We can ensure that mistakes are put right, private information stays private and that compensation is received for financial damage and emotional distress.
Call us on 020 7118 1778 or get in touch online for a consultation with one of our specialist Data Protection claims team.
Judicial Review is the process by which judges examine the decisions of public bodies and consider whether the law has been correctly followed. It is important to stress that Judicial Review is not a re-run on the merits of the decision – judges confine themselves to considering whether the decision being challenged was lawful, and complies with the principles of public law.
If a Judicial Review claim is successful the usual result is that the decision is “quashed” or nullified and has to be taken again. While this means that the public body can take exactly the same decision again, the need to follow proper procedure means that, in practice, at least a better – and often a substantively different – decision results.
Judicial Review can be an expensive and time-consuming process but it often the last mechanism people have for checking the abuse of power within Government and public bodies. It is therefore crucial for upholding the rule of law. Judicial Review is most effective when it forms part of a focused campaign to raise public awareness about issues of either significant local concern or wider public interest.
Call us on 020 7118 1778 or get in touch online for a consultation with one of our specialist to discuss whether your case will merit from a Judicial Review application.
We represent individuals who have been detained, discriminated against, had their human rights breached by or have otherwise been treated unlawfully by the Home Office. We act for clients in both public law claims for judicial review and compensation claims. We are involved in challenges to a wide range of ‘hostile environment’ policies including but not limited to all of the following:
We act for detainees seeking their release from immigration removal centres and prisons. We also regularly obtain substantial amounts of compensation for our clients. Our clients include asylum seekers, people with criminal convictions or deportation orders, people with physical or mental health illnesses, trafficking and torture survivors. We act for people who are currently in detention and people who have been released.
Including challenges to remove curfews and electronic monitoring conditions and claims for compensation.
Assault and mistreatment by escorts
We act for individuals who have been assaulted, restrained or injured by escorts in seeking compensation from the Home Office and private contractors (G4S, Serco, Mitie).
Asylum Support and Accommodation
We act for individuals in challenging delays in applications and suitability of accommodation (including in cases where the accommodation is unsuitable because an individual is pregnant or with young children, or has a disability).
SIAC and National Security
We bring challenges on behalf of individuals who the Home Office wish to exclude from the UK because they are deemed to pose a threat to national security, and whose cases are subject to closed proceedings in the Special Immigration and Appeals Commission.
We act for individuals seeking to challenge the Home Office’s failure to recognise their British Nationality.
We can offer our expertise on a range of human rights issues, including but not limited to all of the following:
The decisions, acts, and failures to act by public bodies exercising public functions are all potentially challengeable by Judicial Review. In an environmental context, such bodies may include government ministers, local authorities, Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) such as the Environment Agency and Natural England.
The main grounds for Judicial Review (which can overlap) include illegality, irrationality, procedural unfairness and incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights and/or EU law:
Illegality / public body acting outside their powers – public bodies are generally only free to do what the law says they can do, be that under an Act of Parliament or secondary legislation such as regulations, rules and orders. If public bodies do not follow the law correctly, any resulting decision, act, or failure to act will be unlawful. As well as the limits placed on any powers in legislation, judges have developed public law rules over many years that impose further restrictions on what public bodies can do. For example, where the law gives a public body the ‘discretion’ to take a decision, public law regulates the manner in which that power is exercised, including by requiring the public body:
Irrationality and proportionality – the courts may intervene and quash a decision where they consider it to be “irrational” or “perverse” (this is sometimes referred to as Wednesbury unreasonableness). The test for irrationality is whether a decision “is so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it”. In practice this can be very difficult to show and there is no special consideration for environmental cases. Because of this, irrationality is usually argued alongside other grounds.
In some cases, particularly where EU law or human rights law is involved, a public body is required to act proportionately. The concept of proportionality involves a balancing exercise between the legitimate aims of the state on one hand, and the protection of the individual’s rights and interests on the other. The test is whether the means employed to achieve the aim correspond to the importance of the aim, and are no more intrusive on the rights of the individual affected than is necessary to achieve the aim.
Procedural unfairness – public bodies must act fairly. They must also be – and be seen to be – impartial. For example, they must not allow decisions to be taken by people who have a financial interest in the outcome or a personal relationship with one of the parties that could give the appearance of bias. If there are express procedures laid down by law they must follow them. For example, a public body may be under a duty to consult people who it believes may be affected by a decision before the decision is made, perhaps because the law says there is such a duty, or perhaps because people have been consulted on similar proposals in the past and so have a reasonable expectation that they will be consulted again.
In order to bring a JUDICIAL REVIEW you must be able to show that you have ‘standing’ before the court. For individuals and community groups, this usually means that you are affected in some way (perhaps because the outcome of the decision – be it a proposal for a road scheme or a permit to undertake exploratory fracking – affects your locality). For environmental NGOs, it usually means that the decision, act or failure to act impacts upon your stated purpose or objectives. In practice, while it is always helpful to show that you have been involved in the process leading up to the decision, domestic courts have a liberal approach to standing and it is generally not a problem, especially where points of public interest are involved.
An application for Judicial Review must be made within strict time limits. Decisions taken under the Planning Acts must be challenged within 6 weeks of the date of the decision (this is usually the publication of the Decision Notice). If the application is large and/or complex, the developer and the Local Planning Authority (LPA) may have to conclude what is known as a section 106 Agreement (covering matters connected with the application) after the application has been approved in principle and before the Decision Notice is published. In such cases, the six-week limitation period will generally run from the date of the publication of the Decision Notice.
For non-planning cases, the claim must be brought “promptly” and in any event within 3 months. These time limits are strictly applied and the parties to Judicial Review cannot agree an extension between themselves.
The first step in the Judicial Review procedure is to write a formal letter to the proposed defendant setting out your proposed claim and what you are seeking. This is known as a pre-action protocol (or PAP) letter. A response is normally requested within 14 days. However, in planning cases, the 6 week time limit to issue a claim does not leave much (or any) time for pre-action correspondence. This is a particularly important stage of the procedure as it is the first opportunity to test your legal arguments. It is not unknown for the defendant to concede that it has acted unlawfully at this stage, thus avoiding the need for legal action.
Permission to proceed
If the defendant’s response to the PAP is unsatisfactory you may decide to pursue a Judicial Review by lodging a claim in the High Court with the relevant fee. This involves the completion of a claim form, setting out your facts, your grounds (why you consider the decision was unlawful), the background to the case with relevant legal provisions and, if you are applying for costs protection, a short statement of your financial means (see the section on Costs, later). This is often the most intensive part of the process for the claimant. We will instruct counsel (either a junior or a QC or both if the case is complex) to advise and draft the statement of facts and grounds.
Once the case is issued, we serve the defendant and any interested party (for example, the holder of the planning permission) with the papers. They can (and almost always do) submit “summary grounds of defence” to explain why it is unarguable and permission should not be granted. In practice, there is a short window of opportunity to reply to those defences.
The court then sends all the correspondence to a judge for a decision on the papers. The test for permission is that you have an arguable case. The Court will weed out cases where it cannot see any arguable error of law, where the claimant cannot show standing or is deemed to be acting vexatiously, or if the case is academic in the sense that it would make no real difference on the ground.
If permission is refused on the papers, you can “renew” the decision to be heard in open court. The other parties may or may not attend. Our experience is that permission is often refused on the papers but granted upon renewal in open court. Sometimes the judge will order that the matter be referred to open court anyway. Just because you have initially been refused permission on the papers does not necessarily mean that you have a weak case – we have had such cases that have ultimately gone on to be successful.
The substantive stage
If permission is granted, the claim proceeds to a full hearing. We await evidence from the defendant, and any interested parties (who tend to put in large amounts of evidence). Sometimes – particularly in urgent cases – a judge may order that both the permission stage and substantive stage be heard at the same time (“a rolled-up hearing”). This is more likely to happen where one party has made an application for the case to be expedited (heard sooner). A rolled-up hearing has the advantage of getting the matter dealt with quickly and in practice is cheaper than the more drawn-out, two stage procedure. However, it can have costs disadvantages.
The final hearing will usually take place a few months after receipt of evidence from the other parties and the claimant filing any further evidence. A few weeks before the date fixed, counsel for both sides will submit “skeleton arguments” – summaries of the respective legal cases. The judge should pre-read these and essential parts of the papers. If this is done, the hearing itself can proceed quite rapidly. Judicial Review seldom take more than three days and are often over within one day.
The judge may deliver judgment there and then or orally shortly afterwards but more usually it is “handed-down” in writing later. With oral judgments, a transcript can be obtained, but may have to be paid for. After judgment is given, there is usually a debate about who pays the costs, and whether permission should be given to appeal the decision.
Judges usually refuse permission to appeal, and the losing party usually has to apply to the Court of Appeal directly for permission. The issue of costs will be revisited on appeal as the “not prohibitively expensive” for legal action (see below) requirement applies to all stages of a Judicial Review.
Going to court is expensive. However, the position is more favourable for claimants in environmental cases because the UK is Party to an international agreement called the Aarhus Convention. There have also been a number of helpful judgments from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the costs of proceedings in environmental cases, which confirm that they must not be “prohibitively expensive” for claimants. As a result of the UK’s ratification of the Aarhus Convention and the rulings of the European Court, there are special costs regimes for environmental cases in England/Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The general rule in costs is that the loser pays the winner’s costs. However, the effect of the Aarhus costs regimes is to initially limit the claimant’s adverse costs (the costs of the defendant public body where they are unsuccessful) to £5,000 where the case is brought by an individual and £10,000 in all other cases. To qualify for Aarhus costs protection you must be a member of the public. This includes individuals, community groups and environmental NGOs and excludes corporate entities.
Claimants are now required to submit a financial schedule to court when applying for Judicial Review outlining their major income, expenditure, assets and liabilities. The defendant can apply to raise these caps if, on the basis of that statement, it believes being exposed to higher adverse costs would not make the case prohibitively expensive for you. They must do this early enough in the procedure to enable you to withdraw the proceedings should you wish to do so. Any hearing into the level of the cap must be held in private so that your financial circumstances are not considered in open court. It is also possible to apply to have the initial caps of £5,000 and £10,000 reduced if you can show that these sums would be prohibitively expensive for you.
In addition to your adverse costs, you must pay the Administrative Court fees of around £1,000 and your own legal costs. In relation to the latter, there are two important points to bear in mind:
A data breach happens when unauthorised people access private information, or it is released into an uncontrolled environment (such as online).
Data protection breach examples include:
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 are the main laws that strictly control how your personal information can used by organisations, businesses or the government.
The amount of compensation you’ll receive if you’re the victim of a data breach depends on the exact circumstances relating to the breach, including:
You could receive compensation for the loss of control over the information even if you suffered no financial loss. . As stated above, the I.C.O. can issue fines to organisations for breaching the GDPR and / or Data Protection Act 2018. However, the fines are distinct from any that can be claimed by victims of data breaches. Their findings that an organisation has not complied with the law, usually after a lengthy investigation, can be helpful in support of a claim for compensation too.