Doughty Street Chambers

Social Housing Department

London (Bar)
Current View:

This content is provided by Chambers. Learn more about our methodology

Doughty Street Chambers is a high-calibre set which impresses with a raft of strong advocates at all levels of seniority. The team is particularly adept at acting for tenants in complex possession proceedings and homelessness appeals, including those regarding disability discrimination. The set has considerable strength in housing cases involving community care and human rights issues. 

Client service: "The clerking is invariably prompt, efficient, accurate and friendly." "The clerks are good at getting back to us promptly and finding counsel in urgent cases." Sian Wilkins is the civil senior practice manager.

Ben Chataway
Experienced housing lawyer and part-time tribunal judge whose practice is enhanced by his knowledge of welfare and social security matters. He typically handles housing cases involving public law and discrimination issues, and has particular expertise in matters relating to allocations, possessions and homelessness. He further attracts praise for his written advocacy and drafting. Chataway is also recognised for his skill in representing clients under difficult circumstances, such as those with disabilities or those seeking asylum.
Strengths:  "He is very eloquent and very respectful of his opponents and his advocacy is the best I have seen." "Responsive, efficient and easy to deal with."
Recent work: Acted for a tenant in an appeal concerning who had the right to serve a 'no fault' notice of possession under Section 21 Housing Act 1988.

Daniel Clarke
Cultivates a growing reputation for his representation of tenants in possession proceedings and homelessness appeals. He is particularly adroit at handling cases with elements of community care, and garners praise for his ability to engage with clients who lack capacity. He is also frequently instructed in disrepair and unlawful eviction claims.
Strengths: "He has excellent legal knowledge and is very good with clients." "Sharp intellect and ability to get the job done." "His work is very impressive. He is very thorough and makes good arguments. He is clearly very committed to representing vulnerable clients."
Recent work: Appeared as junior counsel for Liberty as interveners in two challenges to the 'Right to Rent' scheme set out in the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts which forms part of the government's 'hostile environment' policy.

David Carter
Established advocate with substantial experience acting for both private and public sector clients in landlord and tenant, and local government issues. Carter is recommended for his skilful handling of matters that have a public law or human rights element, and is especially well regarded for his expert handling of homelessness appeals.
Strengths: "He is an extraordinary advocate." "His knowledge of homelessness law is astonishing."

Dominic Preston
Elicits praise for his homelessness expertise, encompassing priority need and intentionality cases, Court of Protection and anti-social behaviour work. He is also known for his ability to handle complex disrepair and unlawful eviction claims, and is increasingly sought after by clients in possession proceedings. He is able to draw on broader knowledge of human rights, EU and immigration law to inform his housing practice.
Strengths: "Exceptional." "Provides invaluable help."
Recent work: Successfully achieved the dismissal of a claim for possession on behalf of a tenant by arguing that the Equality Act was engaged and therefore the eviction would be discrimination.

James Kirk
Junior with a growing reputation in the social housing market. He regularly appears in homelessness cases, many of which involve immigration law issues. He frequently deals with discrimination matters and cases with a human rights element.
Strengths: "Clients like him and he does very valuable work."
Recent work: Successfully argued that a local authority can never rely on ground 15A of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1985 when it has failed to serve the requisite notice on time.

Jamie Burton
Well-respected litigator with a strong reputation for his judicial review work. He is held in esteem for his adroit handling of homelessness cases and landlord and tenant disputes, and offers particularly in-depth knowledge of the Housing Act 1996. Commentators note that he has an exceptionally strong grasp of human rights law.
Strengths: "He is extremely knowledgeable in his subject areas and pleasant to work with." "He is absolutely excellent and fights his cases really hard."
Recent work: Acted in R (Gullu) v Hillingdon LBC. The case concerned the legality of a rule that social housing will only be allocated to persons who have lived in the local area for ten years.

Jim Shepherd
Housing and property specialist known for his work on behalf of law centres and vulnerable tenants. He is lauded by market commentators as a personable and sensitive but tenacious advocate. Shepherd comes particularly recommended for his work on discrimination cases. He also garners praise for his ability to handle complex possession proceedings.
Strengths: "He is easy to speak to and able to turn papers around very quickly and efficiently."
Recent work: Represented an individual who had been found intentionally homeless by a local authority and lost her accommodation. After the appeal, the local authority accepted a full homelessness duty towards the claimant.

Lindsay Johnson
Housing specialist known for his strong track record in judicial reviews and in public law challenges covering a range of issues, such as failure to comply with homelessness duties, anti-social behaviour policies and failure to follow allocation policies. His diverse practice also includes areas such as stock transfers, unlawful eviction and possession proceedings. He is also known for his ability to handle disputes over tenancy agreements and service charges.
Strengths: "Easy to deal with and incredibly good with difficult clients.'' "He has a good analytical mind and can think outside the box."

Martin Westgate QC
Respected leader of the housing and public law teams and widely considered to be a go-to silk for tenants and applicants. He has been involved in high-profile cases concerning the housing benefit cap and the so-called 'bedroom tax'. He regularly acts on matters where human rights and housing law interact. A further area of expertise lies in advising local authorities on policy issues.
Strengths: "He is a significant figurehead in social housing law challenges. His advocacy is phenomenal. He is very clever and analytical and he presents legal arguments before a judge with ease and clarity." "An excellent practitioner."
Recent work: Acted for the applicant in a homelessness case concerning whether a person lacking capacity can make a valid application as a homeless person.

Sarah Steinhardt
Effective, accomplished advocate with pronounced expertise in mental capacity and Equality Act issues in the context of social housing. Her impressive practice takes in homelessness cases and challenges to allocation schemes. She regularly handles disability discrimination matters as part of her diverse practice. Steinhardt is frequently instructed by the Official Solicitor and is also recognised for her strength in housing benefit disputes.
Strengths: "One of the best Equality Act lawyers I have worked with." "She is extremely practical and straightforward and tries to achieve the best for her clients."

Zia Nabi
Housing and social welfare specialist with significant experience of advocating in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. He routinely handles public law challenges with regard to community care, social housing and human rights law. His recent work includes cases regarding Traveller accommodation.
Strengths: "He is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. He is always looking to push boundaries."
Recent work: Acted in a case concerning whether an Irish Traveller was in priority need under Welsh homelessness legislation.