Helen is a human rights and public law solicitor and acts for individuals and campaign groups whose rights have been infringed by state bodies.
She represents clients in a range of matters, including: housing and homelessness; unlawful detention; access to education; and challenges to cuts made by local government.
Helen also has previous experience in pursuing complaints and civil actions against the police and prison authorities and is an accredited police station representative.
Helen is currently working on a research and advocacy project with a leading women’s charity to look at using strategic litigation to help those who suffer domestic violence and are then often systematically excluded by local authorities from urgent accommodation.
Since joining the Public Interest Law Centre (then Unit) in September 2017, Helen has worked on a number of cases including:-
Challenge against Southwark Council – Housing / Public Law case involving a challenge to Southwark Council who had incorrectly applying the ‘space standard’ test for statutory overcrowding contained in the Housing Act 1985. Helen, together with Housing Action for Southwark and Lambeth challenged this unlawful practice. Southwark Council admitted that the test for statutory overcrowding had been incorrectly applied and agreed to review all of its previous decisions in light of the same.
Challenge against Ealing Council – Public Law / Local Government Law
Together with the campaign group, ‘Southall Community Alliance’, PILC successfully challenged the disposal of Southall Town Hall, which is home to a number of community organisations.
The High Court held that Ealing had failed to act in accordance with its Public-Sector Equality duty and had not considered relevant guidance (a Government Circular) allowing authorities to sell for less than the best price.
Challenge to the Secretary of State for the Home Department – Paragraph 9, Schedule 10 Immigration and Asylum Act 2016 Policy and Process (Public Law)
The Secretary of State had failed to publish any, or any adequate application process for those who needed to apply for support under paragraph 9 Schedule 10 Immigration Act 2016.
Judicial review proceedings were brought on behalf of our client (a Syrian national who would have been eligible for support under that provision) Evidence from Hackney Winter Night Shelter, ASAP, Detention Action and Bail for Immigration Detainees had been relied upon in support of the challenge. Due to this legal action the Home Office have now published a policy document providing additional guidance as to how an applicant may apply for accommodation under Para 9 Sch 10
Challenge to the Welsh Education Regulations and Student Finance Wales (Public Law)
Our client made an application to Student Finance Wales which was rejected. We utilised the internal complaints process, with a view to judicially reviewing the Welsh Government and legality of the Welsh Education Regulations. We argued that in refusing to provide our client with student support, the Student Loans Company acting with Student Finance Wales, failed to act in accordance with clear Supreme Court precedent (Tigere), and acted in contravention of both A2P1 and Article 14 ECHR.
We were later informed that the Welsh Ministers amended the Welsh Education Regulations. Those amendments meant that our client would be eligible for support for the next academic year 2018/2019.
In light of those amendments, the extenuating circumstances of our client’s case, and the fact that they ought to have updated their regulations in line with Tigere back in 2015, we requested that they agree to retrospectively fund our client’s first year 2017/2018, as well as grant him finance for the year 2018/2019.
Cases against RBKC and Barnet Homes – (Housing, DV and Public Law)
Both of these cases involved a challenge to the way in which the authority in question had applied its housing allocations policy to DV survivors. Both councils incorrectly placed both clients in the lowest priority band on their housing registers (in the case against RBKC, the client had been in the incorrect band for over 5 years). As a result of the legal action, both clients were subsequently placed in the highest band and have now been housed in suitable permanent accommodation.
Gunars Gureckis and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3298 (Admin) Helen worked with Paul Heron in successfully quashing policy guidance from the Home Office finding that ‘rough sleeping was not an ‘abuse of rights; that the policy discriminated unlawfully against EEA nationals and rough sleepers and the application of the policy involved unlawful ‘systematic verification’ in breach of the express terms of Article 14(2) of the Directive.
Helen is currently working on a number of cases including:
- unlawful immigration detention claims, including on behalf of European nationals who were detained pursuant to the Home Office’s rough sleeping policy; a challenge to the Education Regulations (and therefore against Student Finance England and the Department of Education) – regarding the failure to provide student support to a DV survivor;
- a challenge to local housing authorities for their failure to facilitate a management transfer outside the borough (and cooperate with other authorities), and the failure to source suitable accommodation within a reasonable amount of time;
- a challenge to a local authority’s policy and practice on s17 Children Act subsistence payments. A number of residents (and campaign/frontline organisations) have reported an issue with a particular local authority; routinely provided extremely low subsistence payments (below the asylum support rate);
- a private prosecution against Brigadier Fernando, a defence attaché at the Sri Lankan High Commission who made a throat-slitting gesture to Tamils protesting outside the high commission on Sri Lanka’s Independence Day last year. PILC are pursuing the private prosecution on behalf of three protestors.
Helen graduated from Queen Mary University of London with a 2:1 degree in Law, and obtained a Distinction in her Masters in Law at University College London. She completed the LPC with distinction before undertaking her training contract at Public Interest Lawyers and qualifying as a solicitor in March 2017 at Tuckers Solicitors.
She is a member of the following: