Our family team team acts across the full range of child protection cases, including pre-proceedings cases; emergency protection order applications, care proceedings, placement order and adoption proceedings, secure accommodation order applications and applications brought under the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction. These cases involve vulnerable children and young people who have, in many cases, been abused (physical, sexual and emotional abuse), display non-accidental injuries (including ‘shaken baby’ cases) and fabricated injuries or conditions. It is our understanding that it is unusual for a firm to handle such a wide range of cases, particularly in such high volumes.
Our public law team has over 12 years’ experience including proceedings in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court both as appellant and respondent on diverse issues including criminal record disclosure and right to privacy, legality of sentencing policy, public authority governance and independence from central government. The team are also acting in ongoing judicial review proceedings on behalf of the police federation and a constable under disciplinary proceedings. The team have also dealt with a number of inquests involving detention or deprivation of liberty issues.
Stephensons holds the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Mark and we are members of the Conveyancing Association. The commercial real estate and social housing teams are ranked in the Legal 500 and we are multi award winners of the Law Firm Services and the Modern Law Awards regionally and nationally. We won Property Team of the Year at the Modern Law awards in 2018.
We have assisted with a variety of property related matters, including individual and bulk disposals, portfolio management, development, sale of community assets, and landlord and tenant transactions. We are currently assisting a council in a rent capitalisation project, involving the bulk surrender and renewal of the leases of substation sites. This includes checking the form of surrenders and leases for each site, checking title and arranging for completion.
We have carried out conveyancing under the right to buy, shared ownership and shared equity schemes with management companies. Typical plot sizes range from 12 to 90 units.
We have acted for clients, in relation to residential sales being both existing stock, new build plots, established portfolios and individual properties. We have over 20 years, experience acting for local authority clients, dealing with all aspects of conveyancing.
We have a dedicated HR and employment team who provide specialist advice on HR and all areas of employment law from minor disciplinary matters which may require the provision of disciplinary action right through to large and complex TUPE transactions and restructuring exercises. The team handle all employment tribunal cases and regularly defend claims dealing with complex and contentious issues concerned with equal pay, TUPE, discrimination and unfair/constructive dismissal. The team is managed by Philip Richardson, Partner.
Stephensons also has a dedicated discrimination team supervised by Philip Richardson which focuses on discrimination claims which fall outside the employment tribunal. We are therefore well versed in having to deal with claims raised against local authorities that sit both within and outside the employment tribunal.
In light of the recent changes involving pension auto-enrolment, we have in the last 4 years routinely advised a number of our clients in respect of their pension obligations, whether under existing occupational or final salary pension scheme or under the new regulatory provisions. In addition, we have provided external training to our clients on these matters and also provide regular support to our existing clients and contacts on any changes in pension laws. Separately, as part of defending claims we are well versed in understanding the mechanics of different pension schemes and quantifying loss that arises from the loss of any such pension and being able to either mitigate against the risk associated with such loss on behalf of respondent clients.
Our regulatory team have conducted prosecutions for environmental offences on behalf of Manchester City Council This included advising the client department on the gathering and presentation of evidence, advising on prospects of conviction, the drafting of information and issuing and service of court summonses. We are routinely instructed to recover costs in these proceedings and as a result have been able to make our service cost neutral to the client. We have also been instructed in applications for civil anti-social behaviour orders on behalf of Leeds City Council in the past and acted in enforcement proceedings for breaches of civil orders in the County Court on behalf of West Lancashire Council. More recently we have been instructed on littering cases for Halton council. All of this advocacy is conducted in-house by our regulatory solicitors.
Our civil liberties team has had extensive experience pursuing judicial reviews against local authorities in the areas of community care, public law and human rights. We have conducted judicial review cases from High Court through Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court level as claimant, respondent and interested party representatives.
Stephensons has significant experience in work involving homelessness, housing allocation, challenges to housing authority policy, disrepair and possession cases and advisory / regulatory function. Stephensons’ specialists regularly appear in court in proceedings and other housing litigation. This litigation experience includes ASBO and ASBI cases. The team have advised/acted on many cases involving ASB issues, and have obtained a number of urgent injunctions involving different forms of ASB ranging from unlawful use of property to serious domestic violence to smaller scale tenancy breaches.
The discrimination team has been working under a Legal Aid Agency Contract since 2009. They have extensive experience of providing advice on all aspects of discrimination.
Discrimination can take a number of different forms, namely:
- Direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination in the way that an organisation applies a policy or practice which puts an individual at a disadvantage as a result of their protected status
- Failure to make reasonable adjustments for those who are disabled
- Discrimination arising from a disability
Court of Protection deprivation of Liberty matters
Stephensons has a dedicated department specialising in deprivation of liberties matters and can provide cost effective outsourcing solutions in this specialist area to assist local authority departments to remain in budget while providing an excellent and accountable service to users.
Deputyships and local authorities
We also have a department which specialises in property and financial deputyships. This can allow local authority finance departments to delegate some deputyships into safe and accountable hands, freeing up in house staff to concentrate on other deputy and appointee cases. Because we can recover costs that a local authority may not be able to, there would be no ongoing charge to the authority where that is possible. Of course our activity is supervised by the court and the OPG so there is no risk to service users or reputational risk to the authority. The net result is that the authority’s budget can stretch to providing services for more users and resources can be focussed on the users in most need.
Court of Protection Finance Deputyships - why it may make sense for a local authority to instruct external solicitors
Legal 500 comments
Stephensons Solicitors LLP advises on a wide range of issues such as child care, employment, housing management, property and court of protection matters. It has a large child care team and many members of staff are appointed to the Children Panel. David Baybut acts for housing associations/registered social housing landlords as well as local authorities on various matters from estate development to planning and construction.