A High Court judge has agreed with the Law Society and ruled today that Blackpool Borough Council cannot obstruct a solicitor’s ability to provide access to justice to local residents.
The case involving Blackpool Council and local personal injury firm North Solicitors centred on claims that the council had acted vindictively by refusing to renew the firm’s lease in the Blackpool Enterprise Centre owned by the council because the firm was representing personal injury victims in claims against the council.
The law firm North Solicitors of Lytham Road, Blackpool, brought a judicial review claim in the High Court challenging the council’s decision, and alleging the local authority had been acting improperly and abusing its powers.
His Honour Judge Stephen Davies ruled that the refusal by Blackpool Borough Council to renew the firm’s lease at the Enterprise Centre was an act of ‘retaliation’ and an attempt to ‘punish’ the solicitors for taking on claimants who had been injured as a result of incidents that unfolded on council property.
The judge echoed the sentiments submitted by the Law Society in its intervention letter:
He wrote in his judgement:
‘There can be no conceivable basis for any criticism of a firm of solicitors who, acting in accordance with the law and the relevant professional rules, enable genuine claimants to obtain access to justice so as to claim compensation for injuries sustained as a result of the breach of public bodies such as the defendant.’
Law Society president Nick Fluck said:
‘This a great victory for the claimant. Solicitors should not fear repercussions when securing access to justice on behalf of their clients and whilst upholding the rule of law whether that be representing personal injury victims against a council or any other class of claimant however unpopular.
‘The Law Society wrote in support of the claim for judicial review to express our concern over the defendant’s conduct. We wanted to outline the public importance of the case in supporting an independent legal profession that should not be dissuaded from pursuing legitimate claims against public authorities.’