Leslie Blohm QC | Refusal of registration of the Playing Fields at Llantarnam as a Town or Village Green

Leslie Blohm QCLeslie Blohm QC, barrister within St John’s Chambers’, Town and Village Greens team, has recently appeared for Torfaen County Borough Council as landowner at the Inquiry.

Ms. Ruth Stockley, inspector appointed by Torfaen County Borough Council, has recommended the refusal of registration of the Playing Fields at Llantarnam (formerly the Llantarnam School Playing Fields) as a Town or Village Green. The grounds of the refusal were (1) that the land had not been used for informal recreation by the inhabitants of a ‘neighbourhood’ and (2) that the use relied upon was in the main either contentious, being contrary to clear signs, or according to existing rights of way running over the land. Ms. Stockley’s advice will now be considered by the Council, which will make the final decision as to registration.

The circumstances of this application, where the public has used school playing fields for recreation, is not uncommon. Where the playing field falls out of public use (for example because the school closes) then local residents are concerned to prevent a change of use, and an application to register the land as a Town or Village Green may follow. The Inspector’s decision illustrates the sort of factors that typically have to be considered in coming to a decision.

Leslie Blohm QC instructed by Tim James (Torfaen CBC) represented the Council as landowner at the Inquiry.

View the Inspector’s report: Torfaen County Borough Council

To instruct Leslie on a Commercial & Chancery matter please contact his clerks on  | 0117 923 4740

Natasha Dzameh Winner of Barrister of the Year 2017

It is with great pleasure that we announce the achievement of Natasha Dzameh, one of our Commercial & Chancery barristers, in winning the Bristol Law Society’s “Barrister of the Year 2017” award last night. She was lauded as an excellent lawyer and was also commended on her client service skills. Her accomplishment is demonstrative of the diligence she applies to every case and the priority with which she treats client satisfaction.

Natasha comments on last night’s success “I am delighted to have won the Bristol Law Society’s “Barrister of the Year 2017” Award. This is a surprising and welcome result at such an early stage in my career at the Bar. The support of my colleagues in Chambers, the guidance of my clerks and the level of trust placed in me by my instructing solicitors has been essential to the quick development of my practice. I am very proud to have made a significant impact on the legal community in Bristol.

To instruct Natasha on a Commercial & Chancery matter please contact her clerks on  | 0117 923 4740

St John’s Chambers providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’

We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers has been recommended as a Top Tier Set in the Western Circuit’s Leading Set by The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017.

For one solicitor, St John’s Chambers is ‘one of the leading sets in the South West’, providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’. We specialise in civil matters and have been noted for our strength in commercial, construction, family, personal injury, clinical negligence, regulatory and public law matters. Inquests and inquiries is another key area for our Chambers’.

Three of our QCs are listed in the Western Circuits “Leading silks” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding silks nationwide.

Christopher Sharp QC, Family and children law & personal injury and clinical negligence, “He has a brilliant mind that understands the intricacies of any case.”

Leslie Blohm QC, Commercial, banking, insolvency, Chancery law and Property, “He is very grounded but has an air of absolute authority.”

Kathryn Skellorn QC, Family and children law, “Clients are in awe of her.”

In addition to the success of our QC’s, 38 of our barristers are listed in the “Leading juniors” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding juniors nationwide.

To view further details on our Chambers’ listings please click here

Supreme Court hold Local Authority vicariously liable for abuse by foster parents | Latest article from Marcus Coates-Walker

St John’s Chambers’ Personal Injury barrister Marcus Coates-Walker reports on the recent case of Armes v Nottinghamshire County Council [2017] UKSC 60, regarding care of the appellant by the respondent local authority from the ages of 7 to 18.

The local authority placed the appellant into foster care with: (i) Mr and Mrs A between March 1985 and March 1986; and (ii) Mr and Mrs B between October 1987 and February 1988. She was physically and emotionally abused by Mrs A and sexually abused by Mr B.

The case proceeded on the basis that the local authority were not negligent in the selection or supervision of the foster parents, but that they were nevertheless liable for the abuse perpetrated by her foster carers.

She claimed that the local authority were liable for the abuse, either on the basis that they were:
(i) in breach of a non-delegable duty; or
(ii) vicariously liable for the wrongdoing of the foster parents.

Her claim was dismissed by the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Read/download the full article including the judgement: Supreme Court hold Local Authority vicariously liable for abuse by foster parents

If you would like to instruct Marcus on a related matter please contact his clerks |  or 0117 923 4730

Guy Adams obtains permission for residents’ parking in Bath

Guy AdamsGuy Adams, member of our Commercial & Chancery Practice Group, has obtained permission to proceed with a judicial review in relation to the residents’ parking scheme in Bath.

Guy acts for Willat’s Charity which was established in 1858 to provide support workers to minister to “the lowest and poorest members of society”.  It owns various residential and commercial properties in Bath, which it lets out to maintain an income.  It is bringing judicial review proceedings in order to establish its rights, as the owner of properties fronting the highway, to park on the highway in central Bath.  The Council maintains that by a Local Order made in 2015 all permit parking in Central Bath is now a matter for its administrative discretion, and under its policy occupiers of some of the Charity’s Georgian properties, which have recently been renovated and brought back into use, are not eligible for permits.  The making of the Order was not widely publicised and, as Mr Justice Fraser pointed out in his judgment granting permission for the judicial review to proceed, the single advertisement of the proposed order in the local newspaper did not on its face suggest that anything was going to change. The Charity does not accept that the 2015 Order is a lawful order.

View profile: Guy Adams

If you would like to instruct Guy on a related matter, please contact his clerks:

 | 0117 923 4740

Asha Pearce-Groves summarises court sanctioned experimental stem cell treatment case for the brain injury of an incapacitated adult

Specialist family law barrister, Asha Pearce-Groves, summarises a recent case where the court sanctioned experimental stem cell treatment for the brain injury of an adult that lacked capacity.

The summary has been published on Family Law Week and can be viewed by clicking here.

St John’s is a premier family law set with a roster of experienced advocates. Members undertake family cases of all levels and complexity. The set earns a wealth of positive feedback from clients, who are highly appreciative of the fantastic service they receive.” Chambers UK, Family/Matrimonial (2016)

If you would like to instruct Asha on a related matter, please contact her clerks on 0117 923 4720 or e-mail 

The creation of the Business and Property Courts will enable competition law cases to be heard outside of London

St John’s Chambers’ competition law specialist, Matthew O’Regan, was recently interviewed by PaRR Global, a leading provider of global intelligence on competition law, about how the introduction of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales will encourage competition law litigation outside of London.

The new Business and Property Courts of England and Wales (“BPCs”) became operational on 2 October 2017. As well as London, new BPCs have also been established in five regional centres, including both Bristol and Cardiff. As part of the reforms, the Mercantile Court has been renamed as the ‘Circuit Commercial Court’ and Mercantile Judges are now known as ‘Circuit Commercial Judges’.

A significant change brought about by the creation of the BPCs is that claims based upon either UK or EU competition law can now be issued and heard outside of London, in one of the five regional centres. Previously, such claims could only be brought in either the High Court in London (in either the Chancery Division or the Commercial Court) or in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”), which is based in London, although it has on occasion sat in Cardiff, as well as in Edinburgh and Belfast.

One of the principal objectives of the introduction of the BPCs is to ensure that claims are brought and heard in the most appropriate centre, which will not necessarily be London. Where a claim has ‘significant links’ to one of the regional circuits, it should normally be issued in the appropriate hearing centre, i.e. Bristol for the Western Circuit and Cardiff for the Wales Circuit. Cases may also be transferred from the High Court in London to a regional centre, so that cases with a significant link to a circuit are heard there by a specialist judge. In this way, only cases which are suitable for management and trial will remain in London; all other claims will be transferred to the appropriate regional centre.

A ‘significant link’ can be established in different ways, including by reference to the location of the parties, witnesses and legal representatives, as well as whether the dispute occurred in a location within, or concerns land, goods or other assets located within, the circuit.

The BPCs will include a new specialist list for competition claims, the Competition List, which forms part of the Chancery Division. Claims involving competition law may also be brought in the Commercial Court (which forms part of the Queen’s Bench Division), including the Circuit Commercial Court, if they form part of a contractual or other business dispute.

It should be noted that where a claim allocated to the Competition List is issued in a regional centre, its case management and/or trial will be dependent on the availability of a suitable judge. However, the President of the CAT and twelve of its Chairmen are High Court judges and so have expertise in competition law matters, as do a number of other High Court judges, whether on the bench or in practice. Therefore, provided judges with competition law expertise are prepared to go on circuit, there is no reason why case management and trial cannot take place in a regional centre.

The introduction of the BPC therefore provides an opportunity for litigants and solicitors based outside of London to bring competition claims in regional centres, including both Bristol and Cardiff. This may mean that cases can be heard more quickly and at lower cost than if they were to be issued and heard in London. By way of example, the following claims would be suitable for hearing in the regions:

  • claims for damages following a decision by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) that companies in a particular town or region have participated in an illegal cartel, for example to fix prices or commissions
  • claims for damages following a CMA decision that a company dominant in a local market has abused that dominance, for example by refusing rivals access to its essential infrastructure (such as a port, pipeline or bus station) or by pricing below cost to drive out rivals
  • actions for an injunction to stop threatened or on-going anti-competitive behaviour by a competitor, supplier or other business counterparty
  • applications for a declaration that the terms of a commercial agreement (such as a distribution agreement or a property lease) restrict competition in a local area and are therefore void and unenforceable

Our competition law expert, Matthew O’Regan, was recently interviewed by PaRR Global (a leading provider of global intelligence, data and analysis on competition law) about the likely impact of the formation of the Business and Property Courts. The related article, UK-wide competition claim filing will decrease costs – lawyers, may be found here.

View profile: Matthew O’Regan

If you would like to discuss any aspect of competition law litigation with Matthew, or to instruct him on a related matter, please contact his clerks:

 | 0117 923 4740

St John’s Commercial team host another successful Contract Law Update Seminar

James Pearce-SmithSt John’s Commercial Team recently ran their second Contract Law Update Seminar of the year. The speakers were James Pearce-Smith, Nicholas Pointon, Charlie Newington-Bridges and guest speaker Dr Ardavan Arzandeh from the University of Bristol. The event was a great success with delegates leaving feedback such as “very informative, easy to follow and useful practical interpretation” and “interesting and broad selection of topics”. You can review the live tweets from the day by searching #ContractLaw17 on Twitter.

Opening the seminar, our Nicholas Pointon spoke about recent developments in relation to the role played by an intention to create legal relations in the formation of contracts in situations of relative informality and how best to guard or argue against this. He was shortly followed by Charlie Newington-Bridges, who offered his thoughts on the current state of the law on contractual interpretation following Wood v Capita Insurance [2017] UKSC 24 with a particular look at the role of contractual intention in the interpretation process.

Guest speaker, Dr Arzandeh discussed the role and relevance of the doctrine of contra proferentem in commercial contracts which had been negotiated between parties with equal bargaining power in the light of the recent Court of Appeal ruling in Persimmon Homes Ltd v Ove Arup.

Finishing off the day, James Pearce-Smith reviewed the state of the law on exercise of contractual discretions following the case of Braganza v BP Shipping, emphasising the need for contractual decision-makers to be able to prove that they had followed a rational process.

James, the head of our Commercial Team, commented: “We were delighted that the talks were so well received, reflecting our efforts to ensure that they were relevant, interesting and intelligible.

Some notes from the seminar are available to download: Rationality, Reasonableness and Abuse & Wood v Capita Insurance Services – the last word in contractual interpretation for the time being

For further information on our upcoming events and to be added to our mailing list please contact: Anita Young, Marketing & Events Coordinator | | 0117 923 4770

Lucy Reed appears on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show

Lucy Reed, member of our Family team, appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show last Friday, discussing the impact of revisions to Practice Direction 12J on how the Family Court will deal with child contact cases involving allegations of domestic abuse. See the segment here found on BBC iPlayer by skipping to exactly 15 minutes into the show.

See Lucy’s post on PD12J for The Transparency Project by clicking here.

Matthew White advises on the creation of highways by express dedication

St John’s Chambers Barrister, Matthew White has been asked to advise The Trails Trust on the creation of highways by securing the express dedication of the landowner.

The Trails Trust is a charity with an interest in the development of a network of highways (typically bridleways) across England and Wales. The Trust has asked Matthew to publish the advice online and it can be found here. It covers what a highway is (including its essential characteristics), and how to determine whether a right of way exists (looking at dedication and acceptance).

Matthew will be speaking on the issues covered in the advice at the Institute of Public Rights of Way Conference on 17 October 2017.

If you would like to instruct Matthew on a related matter, please contact his clerks on 0117 923 4730 or e-mail  .

View CV: Matthew White