Pro Bono

John accepts instructions in pro bono cases. These have ranged from appearances in the small claims court to death row appeals heard in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

John has appeared successfully for two prisoners on death row. His first case concerned Trevor Palmer, who had been convicted of murder for the shooting of a Jamaican farmer. As a result of John’s engagement Mr Palmer’s conviction was quashed after he had spent almost 8 years in custody. An account of the work behind the scenes is contained in an article John subsequently wrote for Lawtalk, the New Zealand equivalent of The Gazette. The second case was for Giselle Stafford, a woman sentenced to death in Trinidad for the murder of a former lover. As a result of John’s advocacy, Ms Stafford’s appeal was allowed and a verdict of manslaughter substituted; sentencing was remitted to the Court of Appeal.

In April 2009 John appeared in the Court of Appeal for a Bangladeshi national (FH) who had unsuccessfully applied for indefinite leave to remain in United Kingdom on the basis of an extra-statutory concession/Immigration Rules relating to long residence (in FH’s case, over 20 years). FH’s appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal had been unsuccessful, and his application for permission to appeal had been declined on paper. The case was not without its complexities because of changes in the Immigration Rules and the position taken by the Secretary of State. On a renewed application John successfully obtained permission to appeal. The substantive appeal was also successful: see FH (Bangladesh) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; [2009] EWCA Civ 385; [2009] All ER (D) 112 (13 May 2009). Following the hearing SSHD granted FH indefinite leave to remain.

In the period June-December 2010 John acted in an immigration appeal for a Vietnamese national (“LL”) who had come to the United Kingdom as an unaccompanied minor aged 11. Despite very difficult conditions the appellant had done extraordinarily well at school, obtaining numerous A level passes in her GCSEs. An application for indefinite leave to remain pursuant to her rights under Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms had been refused by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and her appeal to the First-tier Tribunal had been dismissed. At the stage John became involved LL had been in a detention centre for some 5 months awaiting removal to Vietnam. The Upper Tribunal was persuaded to extend the period for applying for permission to appeal and to grant permission to appeal on the basis that none of the relevant Strasberg nor domestic jurisprudence had been cited to or considered by the First-tier Tribunal. LL was released pending the Upper Tribunal hearing. The substantive appeal was allowed by Mr Justice Wilkie and Senior Immigration Judge Gill in December.

In  December 2012 John appeared in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with Michael Birnbaum QC and Malcolm Birdling, on instructions from a pro bono team at Herbert Smith Freehills.  The appeal was by a Jamaican national against his conviction for murder, following his trial in the High Court and his unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Appeal of Jamaica: see English Cases.

At the other end of the scale John  does not mind helping with small claims in appropriate cases. His appearances in the small claims jurisdiction include recovering damages from BT for failing to install telephone lines in a solicitor’s office on an agreed date, and damages from a vendor for a purchaser who, following completion, went to her new property to find holes in the floor, bare wires hanging from the ceiling, the front door lock smashed and piles of rubbish bags left in the garden.    In August 2010 John appeared for a Japanese national who had  been acting for herself in the small claims jurisdiction, in proceedings to recover substantial course monies paid by her to a London based business school. The school refused to reimburse her, relying on terms and conditions that it contended precluded refunds save in exceptional circumstances. John’s intervention (which involved redrafting the claim and appearing at the hearing) resulted in the school refunding the monies.

Please do not hesitate to approach John if you wish to use his services in pro bono work, or to help with such cases.