What do you do?
My area of specialism is Social Housing – principally housing management. This includes tenancy advice, enforcement, and anti-social behaviour. I also deal with commercial disputes and particularly landlord/tenant issues, such as breaking leases and clearing sites for development. Plus, I advise public bodies on their duties under the Freedom of Information Act, and in particular, the impact of the Environmental Information Regulations on local land charges.
Why this area of law?
Everything begins with decent housing. It’s incredibly difficult to make progress in any area of your life if you don’t have a roof over your head. So I enjoy working with people and organisations that invest in our communities. The challenges facing housing associations and public authorities are immense, but they always rise to meet them. There’s a fantastic ethos in the housing sector. And it’s a particularly exciting time for housing in Wales and I want to be involved in the changes taking place.
How do you make a difference for your clients?
I stay at the forefront of new developments. I’m not a fan of complicated, rigid protocols. Life just isn’t like that, and neither is law. If you want help, you usually need it quickly. The world of social housing doesn’t only operate 9 to 5, and many traditional law firms struggle with that. None of my clients need to wait till ‘office hours’ to speak to me. That’s because with Carbon Law Partners, I have complete freedom to do things in ways that suit my clients, at the times that suit them.
Do you have a typical client?
Only in the sense that they’re all looking for something a bit different. An honest approach, with a quick turnaround, and advice in plain English.
Tell us about some of your career achievements?
Firstly, keeping a sense of humour in the worst bits of the worst cases!
Successfully concluding a five-year collective action against 370 local authorities by private property search companies under the Environmental Information Regulations. Who knew there was so much to learn about local land charges!
Acting for East Sussex County Council in its successful appeal to the European Court of Justice against the UK Information Commissioner. It was appealing against the Commissioner’s decision that the Council had overcharged for supplying property data.
Changing the law on the use of hearsay evidence in civil cases. The Court of Appeal’s judgment in Solon Housing Association v. James paved the way for frightened victims to give evidence anonymously where absolutely necessary.
Above all, every time we help a victim of violence, crime or anti-social behaviour speak up against the perpetrators, and do something to change their lives for the better.
Any causes you feel strongly about?
I’m Chair of Bath SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society). We lost our unborn baby, George, in 2012. It’s incredibly comforting to be surrounded by people who have experienced the same loss.