In praise of: Polly Brendon
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Marc Bloomfield
Polly Brendon specialises in public law and judicial review challenges. A solicitor for the Public Law Project, most recently she acted for the Law Centres Network in challenging the Legal Aid Agency’s (LAA's) tender process to procure new contracts for the housing possession court duty schemes: R (Law Centres Federation Limited t/a Law Centres Network) v Lord Chancellor [2018] EWHC 1588 (Admin); September 2018 Legal Action 42. The LAA introduced price competition and ‘bundled’ the courts together to make bigger scheme areas but fewer schemes. The decision that ‘big was better’ was not rational and, it turned out, not based on any evidence.
Polly grasped the issues, the importance of this work and the ‘wrap-around’ services that Law Centres provide, especially in the wake of LASPO. The proposed changes would have harmed Law Centres, and in turn the vulnerable clients they help. The court found not only that the decision was irrational, but also that there had been a breach of the public sector equality duty (Equality Act 2010 s149). It was the first of three very recent judicial reviews, over the course of eight weeks, to shine a light on patterns of unlawful behaviour at the Ministry of Justice.
Polly worked tirelessly through evenings and weekends to collate the compelling body of evidence from practitioners around the UK. Getting the case ready for trial was a huge task, but she did it with an assured calmness, an industriousness that went above and beyond what was expected, and always with her enthusiastic laugh.

About the author(s)

Description: Sue James
Sue James is CEO of LAG. She was previously director and housing solicitor at Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre and a founding trustee at Ealing Law...