Conference: Fundamental rights in public law

Saturday 10 October 2015, 9:45 – 17:00

LSE New Academic Building, 54 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ

Garden Court Chambers’ Public Law Team in association with Legal Action Group and the London School of Economics invites you to join us for a day of expert analysis and discussion.

In the 800th year of the Magna Carta, this day-long conference on Fundamental Rights reflects on the evolution of fundamental rights in the UK and its role in our modern society. At a time when human rights are coming under scrutiny and the right of individuals to challenge decisions of public bodies is under threat, this is the perfect forum in which to take stock of the legal issues and engage in discussions with some of the leaders in the public law field.

With high-level plenaries exploring some of the central themes in public law, and a choice of specialist break-out sessions, delegates can tailor the programme to suit their areas of interest. Garden Court’s public law barristers will be joined by Lord Toulson, Justice of the Supreme Court, as well as external experts from across the fields of inquest law, children’s rights and housing law.

Whether you are a seasoned public lawyer or a newcomer to the field seeking a cross-disciplinary perspective, this is an essential day of debate and discussion around fundamental rights in our society today.

The conference will be followed by a complementary drinks reception for all delegates.


09:45 – 10:15 Registration

10:15 – 10:30 Introduction: Stephen Knafler QC

10:30 – 11:30 Keynote Speech

Lord Toulson, Justice of the Supreme Court: ‘Common Law and Fundamental Rights’

11:30 – 11:50 Coffee Break

11:50 – 13:00 Morning break-out sessions

Delegates can choose between session 1A or 1B.

1. A) Making the rights of the child meaningful

  • The universality of ‘best interests of the child’ as an international norm
  • The enforceability of the best interests concept in domestic law
  • The approach of the courts and public bodies
  • Q&A

Speakers: Shu Shin LuhKathryn CroninMaria Moodie (Chair) of Garden Court Chambers 

1. B) The fundamental right to housing and welfare

  • Whether the fundamental right to affordable housing can be enforced through litigation in the UK courts
  • The UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and their legal relevance in future litigation
  • An analysis of key case law in this area including SG & Others (on the challenge to the household benefit cap based on its impact on lone parents) and Nzolameso v City of Westminster (on the offering of “out-of-borough” accommodation to single parents unable to pay their rent due to housing benefit cuts and the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children)
  • Q&A

Speakers: Liz Davies and Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers with Tom Royston(Chair) of Garden Court North 

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch to be provided

14:00 – 14:45 Plenary 1

Stephen Knafler QC of Garden Court Chambers: Fair Process

  • What is procedural fairness?
  • How does it operate and what makes it so powerful?
  • Examples from different areas of law
  • The fairness principle expands: fairness and legitimate expectation
  • Fairness and proportionality under the European Convention on Human Rights, in EU law and in common law
  • Substantive unfairness and the future

Refreshments available

14:55 – 16:10 Afternoon break-out sessions
Delegates can choose between session 2A or 2B

2. A) Disability and the ageing population: Fundamental rights in adult social care

  • Why fundamental rights matter in this area: the factual context
  • The “crisis in home care”; the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s review; what progress has been made towards a human rights-based approach?
  • Article 5 ECHR safeguards for people lacking mental capacity in social care settings: who benefits from the current safeguards and how?
  • Will Care Act 2014 provide a framework for better care? The new law on assessments, the well-being principle, ECHR rights and private providers
  • ECHR, UNCRPD and Equality Act 2010 in legal challenges to the adequacy and withdrawal of services: an appraisal from some of the case law to date; effective redress in and outside the courts
  • Proposal for a new UN Convention on the Rights of Older People
  • Q&A

Speakers: Katherine Hill, Strategy Advisor on the Equality and Human Rights for Age UK, Bethan HarrisGráinne Mellon, and Beatrice Prevatt (Chair) of Garden Court Chambers

2. B) Preventable deaths: Life in the hands of the State, does it really care?

How effective is Article 2 ECHR or does the State merely pay lip service to the ‘Right to Life’? A legal and practical discussion on the interplay between public law and the ECHR in the following areas:

  • Police shootings
  • Custody deaths at police stations
  • Restraint deaths
  • Self-inflicted deaths
  • Deaths in psychiatric hospitals
  • Suicides
  • Q&A

Speakers: Leslie Thomas QC  and Kirsten Heaven of Garden Court Chambers, Deborah Coles – Director of INQUEST and Professor Keith Rix, Consultant Psychiatrist

16:15 – 17:00 Plenary 2

Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers: Equality

  • Equality and anti-discrimination under the ECHR and EU Law
  • Statutory equality duties
  • Equality and consistency of treatment in public law / common law
  • Practical applications of equality / consistency principle

The conference will be followed by a drinks reception at the venue.

Who should attend?

  • Solicitors and paralegals working in private practice
  • Lawyers and legal advisers working in law centres
  • Lawyers working for charities and NGOs
  • Local authority lawyers and service directors
  • Central government lawyers and policy officers
  • Academics and researchers specialising in public law

What is included?

  • 5.5 hours of fully-accredited CPD training
  • Talks prepared by one of the leading sets of human rights lawyers in the country
  • Comprehensive notes for you to take away
  • Lunch and all refreshments
  • Opportunities to ask questions
  • The opportunity to buy selected Legal Action Group publications at a special conference discount

Delegate fees

Book now to take advantage of the early bird discount. Third and subsequent delegates from your firm or organisation may attend at half price. Details on how to book multiple places are available via the booking form:

Standard: £225.00
Not for profit/NGOs/law centres/advice centres: £195.00
Full-time students/volunteers/unwaged (Proof of status may be required): £75.00

Third and subsequent delegates

Standard: £112.50
Not for profit/NGOs/law centres/advice centres: £97.00
Full-time students/volunteers/unwaged (Proof of status may be required): N/A

Groups of three or more delegates from the same organisation booking at the same time will receive a 50% discount on the standard rate for their third and subsequent delegate places.

All prices are exclusive of VAT

For further details and to book online go here.


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