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Helen Mountfield QC
MEET:

Helen Mountfield QC

"Helen brings a high level of expertise to cases, and is able, competent, clever and knowledgeable about the wider picture."

Chambers & Partners 2016
Called: 1991 | Silk: 2010 | Academic

Helen is a versatile practitioner with a wide ranging and successful practice. She is an ‘engaging’, ‘fearless and tactical advocate’, ‘a fantastically good analytical lawyer’ ‘creative in her arguments’ with ‘an impressive ability to articulate very difficult arguments’ who combines and ‘a clear forensic style’ with ‘an understanding and empathetic approach to clients’ and ‘clear and tactical advice’ (Chambers & Partners 2015). The Legal 500 says she is ‘accessible, hardworking and handles a remarkable range of work with skill and panache’. It adds: ‘Courts respect her, clients love her; opponents are in awe of her’ and that she is ‘outstanding on her feet’.

She is consistently listed in the Legal 500 and Chambers directories, in Administrative & Public Law; Human Rights and Civil Liberties; Education; Local Government; Elections and Employment law. Helen was Chambers & Partners’ Public Law and Human Rights Junior of the Year in 2009; shortlisted for Legal 500 Public Law Silk of the Year 2015; shortlisted as Barrister of the Year by The Lawyer Magazine in 2010 and in the Lawyer’s “Hot 100” Lawyers for 2011.

In 2015-2016, Helen appeared in the Supreme Court seven times, including for the winning parties in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the EU.

Helen is on the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s panel, and was on the Treasury A Panel before taking silk. She is a special advocate, and sits as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Administrative Court and as a civil and criminal recorder. She is also a qualified mediator, and a member of the Council of Justice. She is a Master of the Bench of Gray’s Inn.

As a highly regarded public law specialist, Helen has appeared in many significant cases.

Particular areas of expertise include regulatory work, equality law, terrorism and national security, education law, social welfare and election law.

Helen is particularly well-known for cases concerning discrimination and equality questions as they arise in public law, employment, commercial and other contexts.

She is also one of the few practitioners at the Bar with frequent election law experience.

She has also written an article entitled “Regulatory Expropriations in Europe: the Approach of the European Court of Human Rights” 11 New York University Environmental Law Journal 136 (2002-2003).

Helen’s expertise in equality law covers a variety of fields. She has particular expertise in public sector equality duties, and the interaction of European and international law and domestic employment law.

Recent and notable cases include:

  • R (Napo) v Secretary of State for Justice [2014]
    Represented Napo in a challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to privatise a significant proportion of the probation service without first disclosing relevant information to the trade union and having regard to its observations. The substantive judicial review was withdrawn after the trade union obtained the information sought in interim disclosure proceedings and after its representations were taken into account.
  • Burke v The College of Law [2012] EWCA Civ 87
    Court of Appeal – with Laura Prince, successfully defending the College of Law in a claim that it failed to make reasonable adjustments in relation to qualifications.
  • R (G) v Governing Body of X School [2011] UKSC 30; [2012] 1 AC 167 Supreme Court – article 6 and fair procedure in referral decisions to the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
  • Ladele v London Borough of Islington [2009] EWCA 1357; [2010] 1 WLR 955
    Successfully representing Islington council in a claim for religious discrimination – this case later went to the European Court of Human Rights and is reported as Eweida & Others v United Kingdom (Applications nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10), (2013) 57 EHRR 8.

For a list of Helen’s Employment and Discrimination cases, please see here.

Helen is one of the very few practitioners at the Bar with extensive experience of election law, a field in which she has practised for over 20 years. She has represented and advised three major political parties, registration and returning officers, and advised the Electoral Commission, private companies and civil society groups on the demands of election law.

Helen has extensive election petition experience, including two Parliamentary election petitions.

Recent and notable cases include:

Helen represented the successful petitioner in Watkins v Woolas, in which the Oldham East and Saddleworth general election result in 2010 was set aside using section 106 Representation of the People Act 1983 (a result which was upheld in the Divisional Court in R (Woolas) v Parliamentary Election Court). This was the first successful use of section 106 in a general election petition for a century.

She represented the Equality & Human Rights Commission in its intervention in Greens & Anor v UK (2010) in the European Court of Human Rights. This was part of the ‘prisoners’ voting’ litigation. The ECtHR found a violation of art 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) to the ECHR and no violation of ECHR, art 13 (right to an effective remedy) as to the continuing failure to amend the legislation imposing a blanket ban on voting in national and European elections for convicted prisoners in detention in the UK.

She has also appeared in numerous other general and local election petitions, including the Winchester General Election Petition in 1997, the Bordesley Green election petition (in which she represented the successful petitioners) and Knight v Nicholls (2003) in which the applicant sought a determination that the election in Belle Vale & Halsbury was void due to undelivered postal ballot papers.

Helen has a wide-ranging administrative law practice. Issues of human rights, discrimination and EU law intersect across her whole practice. She works collaboratively with solicitors and clients, so that advice and, if appropriate, litigation, meet the client’s strategic objectives. She is happy to discuss a case ahead of instructions and is a qualified mediator.

Recent and notable cases include:

  • R (Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills [2015] UKSC 57, [2015] 1 WLR 3820
    Representing successful claimant in challenge to exclusion from eligibility for a student loan.
  • R (Cornwall County Council) v Secretary of State for Education [2015] UKSC 46, [2015] 3 WLR 213
  • Representing South Gloucestershire County Council, successful interested party in case concerning allocating of responsibility for community care provision between public authorities on the basis of ordinary residence.
  • R (Kanu) v London Borough of Southwark [2015] UKSC 30, [2015] 2 WLR 1341
    Representing successful claimant in challenge to process for determining whether a person ‘vulnerable’ for purposes of Housing Act 1996, and establishing correctness of Bracking test for requirements of the public sector equality duty.

For a list of Helen’s Administrative and Public Law cases, please see here.

Helen acts both for individual and corporate claimants and for a wide range of public authorities. She is on the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s panel of preferred counsel, and acts as a special advocate.

Public authorities and regulatory bodies which she has represented or advised include the EHRC, the Information Commissioner, the Office of Rail Regulation, the Electoral Commission, the Lord Chancellor, Ofsted, Ofqual, the GMC and the Law Society. She has also represented blue chip companies in successful public law challenges.

Before taking silk Helen was Chambers & Partners’ Public Law and Human Rights Junior of the Year 2009 and a member of the Treasury A Panel. Since 2013, she sits part-time as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Administrative Court.

Helen is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to her clients, including advice and representation services, Helen needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes her client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matter upon which she is instructed. To read Helen’s privacy notice in full, please see here.

Helen is regulated by the Bar Standards Board and accepts instructions under Standard Contractual Terms. To find out more information on this and the way we work at Matrix, including our fee transparency statement, please see our see our service standards

DIRECTORY RECOMMENDATIONS

This year the Legal 500 says ‘courts respect her; clients love her; opponents are in awe of her’. She has also been described as  ‘accessible, hardworking and handles a remarkable range of work with skill and panache’ (Legal 500); an ‘impressive’, ‘engaging’, ‘fearless and tactical advocate’, who combines creative arguments, a clear forensic style and an understanding and empathetic approach to clients (Chambers & Partners).

Top class, she's both extremely intelligent and hugely practical." "She's a good communicator who is exceptionally knowledgeable and good with clients.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Election Law

She fights hard for her clients but is a lovely opponent.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Community Care

She is clearly one of the leading silks at the Bar.

Chambers & Partners 2021, European Law

Very approachable and really good to work with." "She is phenomenally intelligent.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Education

A good advocate who is known for being involved in high-profile matters - she uses her broad experience to bring a different perspective to cases." "She's intelligent, committed, hard-working and very good with clients.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Local Government

She is super bright, down to earth and always gets straight to the heart the matter." "A no-nonsense, highly intelligent advocate.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

She did an absolutely first-class job, and was excellent at deciding which points to respond to in order to argue the case in its strongest form.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Administrative & Public Law

Immensely experienced.

Legal 500 2021, Court of Protection and Community Care

She is firm, highly skilled in the law, and capable of bringing together a range of opinions from practitioners who themselves have had years of experience.

Legal 500 2021, European Union Law

An incisive legal mind who is very experienced in equality law and human rights.

Legal 500 2021, Education

She is extremely bright and very able, and can construct extremely effective and persuasive argument. She is much liked by clients for her keen, unstinting approach, and her empathy, and her willingness always to go the extra mile.

Legal 500 2021, Administrative & Public Law (Including Elections)

She has a brain the size of a planet and is a fabulous advocate. Simply superb to work with.

Legal 500 2021, Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police)

A highly experienced silk.

Legal 500 2019, Court of Protection and Community Care

Excellent on EU law issues, she is willing to pitch in.

Legal 500 2019, European Law

The range of her practice is incredible – but not at the expense of her grasp of detail.

Legal 500 2019, Education

Intellectually rigorous, with clarity of expression.

Legal 500 2019, Administrative & Public Law

Unflappable silk with exceptional knowledge of the area.

Legal 500 2019, Civil Liberties & Human Rights (including actions against the police)

She's very, very clever and is excellent both on paper and on her feet." "She's personable, immensely bright and fantastically persuasive." "She combines excellent technical skills with a grounded, practical approach, and never loses sight of the big picture.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Local Government

Has an incredible reputation and a very wide-ranging practice. She has been at the forefront of many areas of law and is a measured and authoritative advocate." "She knows what will and won't fly with the court and gets good results.

Chambers & Partners 2020, European Law

Very intelligent, committed, hard-working and very good with clients," she is "a pragmatic performer" who is "bright, charming and a delightful person to work with.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Election Law

An incredibly elegant advocate; she is really persuasive and can articulate beautifully." "One of the leading practitioners on issues involving human rights and the Equality Act. She's a very impressive advocate.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Education

She's reliable, clear-thinking and collegiate in her approach. She understands completely what we need and her work is always high quality.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Community Care

One of the leading lights in equality law and human rights. She's very nice to work with, very bright, and good at knowing what will and won't fly with the courts." "She's reliable, clear thinking and collegiate.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

An extraordinary silk. One thing that's very impressive is the degree to which she'll contribute throughout the litigation as a thoughtful participant." "One of the leading lights in equality, human rights and public law. She's very nice to work with, very bright, and good at knowing what will and won't fly with the courts. She gets good results and really cares about her clients." "Helen is calm and measured. She took good tactical decisions and made the case seem very simple.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Administrative & Public Law

She is brilliant on human rights and equalities arguments, and always has the ear of the court.

Chambers & Partners 2019 Local Government

She is very bright, highly analytical and attentive, and particularly experienced in this area of law.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Election Law

She is the pre-eminent education silk in cases involving equality and human rights.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Education

Brilliant on human rights and equalities arguments, and she always has the ear of the court.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Community Care

She is very well respected on the circuit." "Helen does very good work.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

Pre-eminent in judicial review claims founded in discrimination enactments, and has a depth of knowledge and clarity of exposition that makes her an obvious first choice." "Brilliant on human rights and equalities arguments, she always has the ear of the court..

Chambers & Partners 2019, Administrative & Public Law
Matrix Chambers
24 HOUR ASSISTANCE
+44 (0)20 7404 3447
Helen Mountfield QC
Called: 1991 | Silk: 2010 | Academic

"Helen brings a high level of expertise to cases, and is able, competent, clever and knowledgeable about the wider picture."

Chambers & Partners 2016

MAIN AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • International arbitration
  • Commercial Law
  • Community Care Law
  • Competition
  • Discrimination and Equality
  • Education Law
  • Election Law
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law and Natural Resources
  • EU Law
  • Healthcare, Mental Health and Mental Capacity
  • Civil Liberties and Human Rights
  • Immigration, Asylum and Free Movement
  • Local Government Law
  • Media and Information Law
  • Mediation
  • Prison Law
  • Public International Law
  • Public Law
  • Commercial Public Law
  • Telecommunications
  • Police, Inquests and Prison
  • Health and Social Care (including welfare benefits)
  • Commercial Public Law

Helen Mountfield QC

Contact Helen: helenmountfield@matrixlaw.co.uk | +44 (0)20 7404 3447

Contact Helen's Practice Team (Team X): TeamX@matrixlaw.co.uk


Helen is a versatile practitioner with a wide ranging and successful practice. She is an ‘engaging’, ‘fearless and tactical advocate’, ‘a fantastically good analytical lawyer’ ‘creative in her arguments’ with ‘an impressive ability to articulate very difficult arguments’ who combines and ‘a clear forensic style’ with ‘an understanding and empathetic approach to clients’ and ‘clear and tactical advice’ (Chambers & Partners 2015). The Legal 500 says she is ‘accessible, hardworking and handles a remarkable range of work with skill and panache’. It adds: ‘Courts respect her, clients love her; opponents are in awe of her’ and that she is ‘outstanding on her feet’.

She is consistently listed in the Legal 500 and Chambers directories, in Administrative & Public Law; Human Rights and Civil Liberties; Education; Local Government; Elections and Employment law. Helen was Chambers & Partners’ Public Law and Human Rights Junior of the Year in 2009; shortlisted for Legal 500 Public Law Silk of the Year 2015; shortlisted as Barrister of the Year by The Lawyer Magazine in 2010 and in the Lawyer’s “Hot 100” Lawyers for 2011.

In 2015-2016, Helen appeared in the Supreme Court seven times, including for the winning parties in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the EU.

Helen is on the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s panel, and was on the Treasury A Panel before taking silk. She is a special advocate, and sits as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Administrative Court and as a civil and criminal recorder. She is also a qualified mediator, and a member of the Council of Justice. She is a Master of the Bench of Gray’s Inn.

As a highly regarded public law specialist, Helen has appeared in many significant cases.

Particular areas of expertise include regulatory work, equality law, terrorism and national security, education law, social welfare and election law.

Helen is particularly well-known for cases concerning discrimination and equality questions as they arise in public law, employment, commercial and other contexts.

She is also one of the few practitioners at the Bar with frequent election law experience.

She has also written an article entitled “Regulatory Expropriations in Europe: the Approach of the European Court of Human Rights” 11 New York University Environmental Law Journal 136 (2002-2003).

Equality and Employment Law

Helen’s expertise in equality law covers a variety of fields. She has particular expertise in public sector equality duties, and the interaction of European and international law and domestic employment law. Recent and notable cases include: R (Napo) v Secretary of State for Justice [2014] Represented Napo in a challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to privatise a significant proportion of the probation service without first disclosing relevant information to the trade union and having regard to its observations. The substantive judicial review was withdrawn after the trade union obtained the information sought in interim disclosure proceedings and after its representations were taken into account. Burke v The College of Law [2012] EWCA Civ 87 Court of Appeal – with Laura Prince, successfully defending the College of Law in a claim that it failed to make reasonable adjustments in relation to qualifications. R (G) v Governing Body of X School [2011] UKSC 30; [2012] 1 AC 167 Supreme Court – article 6 and fair procedure in referral decisions to the Independent Safeguarding Authority. Ladele v London Borough of Islington [2009] EWCA 1357; [2010] 1 WLR 955 Successfully representing Islington council in a claim for religious discrimination – this case later went to the European Court of Human Rights and is reported as Eweida & Others v United Kingdom (Applications nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10), (2013) 57 EHRR 8. For a list of Helen’s Employment and Discrimination cases, please see here.

Election Law

Helen is one of the very few practitioners at the Bar with extensive experience of election law, a field in which she has practised for over 20 years. She has represented and advised three major political parties, registration and returning officers, and advised the Electoral Commission, private companies and civil society groups on the demands of election law. Helen has extensive election petition experience, including two Parliamentary election petitions. Recent and notable cases include: Helen represented the successful petitioner in Watkins v Woolas, in which the Oldham East and Saddleworth general election result in 2010 was set aside using section 106 Representation of the People Act 1983 (a result which was upheld in the Divisional Court in R (Woolas) v Parliamentary Election Court). This was the first successful use of section 106 in a general election petition for a century. She represented the Equality & Human Rights Commission in its intervention in Greens & Anor v UK (2010) in the European Court of Human Rights. This was part of the ‘prisoners’ voting’ litigation. The ECtHR found a violation of art 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) to the ECHR and no violation of ECHR, art 13 (right to an effective remedy) as to the continuing failure to amend the legislation imposing a blanket ban on voting in national and European elections for convicted prisoners in detention in the UK. She has also appeared in numerous other general and local election petitions, including the Winchester General Election Petition in 1997, the Bordesley Green election petition (in which she represented the successful petitioners) and Knight v Nicholls (2003) in which the applicant sought a determination that the election in Belle Vale & Halsbury was void due to undelivered postal ballot papers.

Administrative and Public Law

Helen has a wide-ranging administrative law practice. Issues of human rights, discrimination and EU law intersect across her whole practice. She works collaboratively with solicitors and clients, so that advice and, if appropriate, litigation, meet the client’s strategic objectives. She is happy to discuss a case ahead of instructions and is a qualified mediator. Recent and notable cases include: R (Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills [2015] UKSC 57, [2015] 1 WLR 3820 Representing successful claimant in challenge to exclusion from eligibility for a student loan. R (Cornwall County Council) v Secretary of State for Education [2015] UKSC 46, [2015] 3 WLR 213 Representing South Gloucestershire County Council, successful interested party in case concerning allocating of responsibility for community care provision between public authorities on the basis of ordinary residence. R (Kanu) v London Borough of Southwark [2015] UKSC 30, [2015] 2 WLR 1341 Representing successful claimant in challenge to process for determining whether a person ‘vulnerable’ for purposes of Housing Act 1996, and establishing correctness of Bracking test for requirements of the public sector equality duty. For a list of Helen’s Administrative and Public Law cases, please see here.

Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law

Helen acts both for individual and corporate claimants and for a wide range of public authorities. She is on the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s panel of preferred counsel, and acts as a special advocate. Public authorities and regulatory bodies which she has represented or advised include the EHRC, the Information Commissioner, the Office of Rail Regulation, the Electoral Commission, the Lord Chancellor, Ofsted, Ofqual, the GMC and the Law Society. She has also represented blue chip companies in successful public law challenges. Before taking silk Helen was Chambers & Partners’ Public Law and Human Rights Junior of the Year 2009 and a member of the Treasury A Panel. Since 2013, she sits part-time as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Administrative Court.
Helen's Privacy Notice

Helen is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to her clients, including advice and representation services, Helen needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes her client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matter upon which she is instructed. To read Helen’s privacy notice in full, please see here.


DIRECTORY RECOMMENDATIONS

This year the Legal 500 says ‘courts respect her; clients love her; opponents are in awe of her’. She has also been described as  ‘accessible, hardworking and handles a remarkable range of work with skill and panache’ (Legal 500); an ‘impressive’, ‘engaging’, ‘fearless and tactical advocate’, who combines creative arguments, a clear forensic style and an understanding and empathetic approach to clients (Chambers & Partners).

Top class, she's both extremely intelligent and hugely practical." "She's a good communicator who is exceptionally knowledgeable and good with clients.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Election Law

She fights hard for her clients but is a lovely opponent.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Community Care

She is clearly one of the leading silks at the Bar.

Chambers & Partners 2021, European Law

Very approachable and really good to work with." "She is phenomenally intelligent.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Education

A good advocate who is known for being involved in high-profile matters - she uses her broad experience to bring a different perspective to cases." "She's intelligent, committed, hard-working and very good with clients.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Local Government

She is super bright, down to earth and always gets straight to the heart the matter." "A no-nonsense, highly intelligent advocate.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

She did an absolutely first-class job, and was excellent at deciding which points to respond to in order to argue the case in its strongest form.

Chambers & Partners 2021, Administrative & Public Law

Immensely experienced.

Legal 500 2021, Court of Protection and Community Care

She is firm, highly skilled in the law, and capable of bringing together a range of opinions from practitioners who themselves have had years of experience.

Legal 500 2021, European Union Law

An incisive legal mind who is very experienced in equality law and human rights.

Legal 500 2021, Education

She is extremely bright and very able, and can construct extremely effective and persuasive argument. She is much liked by clients for her keen, unstinting approach, and her empathy, and her willingness always to go the extra mile.

Legal 500 2021, Administrative & Public Law (Including Elections)

She has a brain the size of a planet and is a fabulous advocate. Simply superb to work with.

Legal 500 2021, Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police)

A highly experienced silk.

Legal 500 2019, Court of Protection and Community Care

Excellent on EU law issues, she is willing to pitch in.

Legal 500 2019, European Law

The range of her practice is incredible – but not at the expense of her grasp of detail.

Legal 500 2019, Education

Intellectually rigorous, with clarity of expression.

Legal 500 2019, Administrative & Public Law

Unflappable silk with exceptional knowledge of the area.

Legal 500 2019, Civil Liberties & Human Rights (including actions against the police)

She's very, very clever and is excellent both on paper and on her feet." "She's personable, immensely bright and fantastically persuasive." "She combines excellent technical skills with a grounded, practical approach, and never loses sight of the big picture.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Local Government

Has an incredible reputation and a very wide-ranging practice. She has been at the forefront of many areas of law and is a measured and authoritative advocate." "She knows what will and won't fly with the court and gets good results.

Chambers & Partners 2020, European Law

Very intelligent, committed, hard-working and very good with clients," she is "a pragmatic performer" who is "bright, charming and a delightful person to work with.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Election Law

An incredibly elegant advocate; she is really persuasive and can articulate beautifully." "One of the leading practitioners on issues involving human rights and the Equality Act. She's a very impressive advocate.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Education

She's reliable, clear-thinking and collegiate in her approach. She understands completely what we need and her work is always high quality.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Community Care

One of the leading lights in equality law and human rights. She's very nice to work with, very bright, and good at knowing what will and won't fly with the courts." "She's reliable, clear thinking and collegiate.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

An extraordinary silk. One thing that's very impressive is the degree to which she'll contribute throughout the litigation as a thoughtful participant." "One of the leading lights in equality, human rights and public law. She's very nice to work with, very bright, and good at knowing what will and won't fly with the courts. She gets good results and really cares about her clients." "Helen is calm and measured. She took good tactical decisions and made the case seem very simple.

Chambers & Partners 2020, Administrative & Public Law

She is brilliant on human rights and equalities arguments, and always has the ear of the court.

Chambers & Partners 2019 Local Government

She is very bright, highly analytical and attentive, and particularly experienced in this area of law.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Election Law

She is the pre-eminent education silk in cases involving equality and human rights.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Education

Brilliant on human rights and equalities arguments, and she always has the ear of the court.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Community Care

She is very well respected on the circuit." "Helen does very good work.

Chambers & Partners 2019, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

Pre-eminent in judicial review claims founded in discrimination enactments, and has a depth of knowledge and clarity of exposition that makes her an obvious first choice." "Brilliant on human rights and equalities arguments, she always has the ear of the court..

Chambers & Partners 2019, Administrative & Public Law