"Exemplary in her commitment to use the law to further the interests of the most disadvantaged groups in society"
Louise Whitfield qualified in 1997 and joined Pierce Glynn in 2009. She is now a partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn. Previously she worked at the Public Law Project (PLP), the leading public law NGO, where she was Head of Casework.
She is widely recognised as a leader in the field of public law, described by clients in the Chambers Directory as “exemplary in her commitment to use law to further the interests of the most disadvantaged groups in society, and she does so in a very tactful and sensitive way.”
Louise is a public law specialist, with more than twenty years’ experience of conducting high-profile judicial review claims across a wide range of subject areas including discrimination and equality duties, public sector funding and procurement, healthcare and community care, claims based on breaches of the Human Rights Act, and claims relating to inquests and prisoners’ rights. Louise is described as a leading individual in administrative and public law in Legal 500 and is recognised in the current edition of the Chambers Directory as a leader in the field of administrative and public law, as well as civil liberties and human rights; the latter describes her as “creating really important stepping stones under the radar. She has a rare talent to spot the cases that are important”.
Much of Louise’s casework has focused on public law discrimination challenges arising from breaches of the public sector equality duty. She represented the claimants in the leading Court of Appeal case of R (Bracking & Others) v SSWP, quashing the Government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund. Louise used the equality duty to force the Bank of England to include a new female historical figure on banknotes ahead of schedule, and to stop the Home Office continuing with its “Go home or get arrested” advertising campaign. Louise also acted for the claimants in the successful early equality duty challenges brought using s71 of the Race Relations Act (the race equality duty) and s49A of the Disability Discrimination Act (the disability equality duty). She has advised on a number of gender equality duty cases and regularly represents women’s organizations on a wide range of public law issues. She frequently advises and represents claimants seeking to challenge reductions in public sector funding and services, including funding cuts to user-led organisations run by disabled people, as well as women’s refuges and other women-only services.
In 2017 and 2018, Louise was on the Fawcett Society’s Sex Discrimination Law Review panel. Her feminist campaigning clients include the End Violence Against Women Coalition, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Southall Black Sisters, Women’s Aid and the Women’s Resource Centre.
Louise is a founding member of the Deaf and Disabled People’s Legal Network, set up by Inclusion London to bring together DDPOs and lawyers to raise understanding of the legal system, legislation, case law and policy that relates to the quality of life, rights and inclusion of Deaf and disabled people. She was nominated and shortlisted for a Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award for her work with the Network. Louise also provides legal expertise to the Disability Justice Project run by Inclusion London and increasingly litigates on behalf of disabled people in private law discrimination cases about access to goods and services.
Louise represented the appellants in the successful Supreme Court challenge to secure civil partnerships for mixed sex couples. The Court ruled unanimously that this was a breach of the Human Rights Act, and a few months later the Government agreed to change the law. In recognition of her work on that case and other discrimination challenges, Louise was shortlisted for the Bob Hepple QC Equality Award, run by the Equal Rights Trust, and the Lexis Nexis Legal Personality of the Year award in 2019.
Louise also has extensive experience of delivering public law training to lawyers and non-lawyers, having designed, developed and delivered a wide range of courses ranging from conference workshops on public law basics and the equality duty, to one-day events on judicial review pre-action tactics and strategy for claimants’ representatives.
Significant cases in which Louise has acted include:
R (Steinfeld & Keidan) v Secretary of State for International Development (Supreme Court) – lack of civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples ruled unlawful
R (Bracking & Others) v SSWP (Court of Appeal) – quashing the decision to close the Independent Living Fund
R (SS) v SSHD (High Court) – finding of breaches of Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR in relation to a detainee with severe mental health problems
R (Hajrula & Hamza) v London Councils (High Court) – quashing of decision to cut London Councils’ grants budget by £10m
R (Razai & Others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (High Court) – successful challenge to the Home Office’s unlawful approach to providing bail addresses to immigration detainees
R (MA & TT) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (High Court) – unlawful detention claim raising significant issues of public interest disclosure on removals to Iran
R (Kaur & Shah) v London Borough of Ealing (High Court) – domestic violence funding cuts; no race impact assessment
R (Chavda & Others) v London Borough of Harrow (High Court) – restriction of adult care service to people with critical needs
Kehoe v UK (European Court of Human Rights) – CSA delays and Articles 6 and 13 of the Human Rights Convention
R (Cornerhouse Research) v Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, PLP intervening (Court of Appeal) – principles and practice of making protective costs orders in public law cases
R (Keating & Others) v Cardiff Local Health Board (Court of Appeal) – health authority powers to fund advice for mental health service users
R (Capenhurst & Others) v Leicester City Council (High Court) – decision to cease funding six voluntary organisations without adequate consultation quashed
R (Williams) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Court of Appeal) – disclosure of reports and right to oral hearing for discretionary life prisoner