Nick has a mixed public law and civil actions practice. He acts for individuals, charities, interest groups, unions, businesses, schools and local authorities.
Nick is a former academic, and a former solicitor. He graduated in 1991, obtained a PhD in civil justice reform in 1995 (as Lord Woolf’s reforms, which became the Civil Procedure Rules, were being formulated), and then qualified as a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell in 1998 where he began to focus on public law. In 2001 he transferred to the Bar, joining Matrix in 2007.
Areas of practice
In public law recent and ongoing cases include R (T) v Chief Constable Greater Manchester, which was a Supreme Court case overturning the previous requirements concerning the disclosure of childhood cautions when seeking certain types of employment; Belhaj v Security Services, which is the case concerning with the security services accessing privileged material and where Nick is instructed by Amnesty International and WXYZ v Department of Health, which concerns the lawfulness of requiring the NHS to pass information to the Home Office for immigration purposes.
Nick continues to have a wide-ranging immigration practice. He is in ZZ v SSHD, which is a national security case now back before SIAC having been before the CJEU and the Court of Appeal. Another EU case is FV (Italy), a deportation case where Nick succeeded before the Court of Appeal. It is now awaiting listing in the Supreme Court. Nick acts in a number of business immigration cases, and is currently involved in a number of the cases arising out of the alleged language-testing fraud.
Nick has extensive experience of equality issues in a variety of contexts. He succeeded in one of the first equality cases arising out of immigration detention, Gichura v Home Office. He has acted in a number of public sector equality duty cases including the Devon/Virgin Care case (concerning a £132m contract for Devon’s children services). He was instructed by the London School of Economics, successfully defending themselves against a former student alleging discrimination against him as a man.
Nick is a sought-after prison law expert. He acted for Lee and Wells in their successful applications to Strasbourg in connection with the IPP regime (James, Lee and Wells v UK). He continues to act for Lee in the ongoing IPP litigation, Lee v SSJ (now granted permission to proceed to the Court of Appeal). Nick intervened for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Griffiths & Coll v SSJ (a case concerned with equality of access to probation hostels for women). He represents the claimant in D v Lord Chancellor, which is a key challenge to the prison legal aid regulations.
Nick is an experienced community care, mental capacity and mental health, education and health and healthcare practitioner. Many of his cases overlap with his immigration and equality practices. He acted in the recent KA v Essex CC litigation (migrants and s.17 of the Children Act 1989). Nick appears regularly in the Court of Protection.
Nick is also a very experienced inquests practitioner. In 2014 he acted for the family of Brian Dalrymple, an American citizen who died in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. The jury returned a neglect verdict. In the same year he acted for the family of Colin Hatch, who was murdered by another inmate in a Category A prison in 2011. Nick is instructed in an ongoing inquest concerning G4S and the murder of two of its security contractors in Iraq in 2009, due to be heard in early 2015.
Nick also has experience of commercial public law challenges, challenges concerning wider human rights issues, and EU law. He has particular expertise in acting for solicitors’ firms in their disputes with the Legal Aid Agency. Some of these cases raise procurement issues. An increasing number of Nick’s cases concern data-sharing, including in a national security context. Nick is also instructed by a number of businesses, and business groups, who seek advice in respect of strategic public law challenges on regulatory and related issues.
What the directories say
Chambers and Partners list Nick in five practice areas. Comments include: "He is extremely bright and motivated"; "His advocacy is great, he's very creative and is an easy person to talk through issues with”; and "He is a really clever thinker and a problem solver." "He is great as an advocate - he always gets passionately involved in the cases and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to them."
Legal 500 also records Nick's passion on behalf of his clients. They list him in four areas and comments include "An excellent advocate who gets passionately involved on behalf of the client" and "Analytical and intelligent, and a very capable advocate.
Nick regularly writes and speaks on all aspects of his practice and on civil justice reform. He is a regular contributor to the journal Judicial Review. Nick has also written extensively on the current legal aid proposals. He regularly briefs MPs and members of the House of Lords on legal aid and judicial review, and has given evidence to Parliamentary committees.