Anne Marie Irwin is absolutely spectacular at her job. Excellent client management. Real understanding of the law, and how to use controversial cases to change it’. – Legal 500, 2023
Anne-Marie Irwin has a rapidly increasing reputation in all areas of public law. Supremely intelligent and grasps the facts and legal issues very quickly. – Legal 500, 2023
Anne-Marie is a really bright, hard-working and dedicated lawyer. She maintains an extremely high level of professional conduct even when cases are emotionally charged. – Chambers & Partners, 2023
I have nothing but immense admiration and gratitude for her commitment. She is a great legal ally to disabled people at this crucial point. – Chambers & Partners, 2023
Anne-Marie advises individuals, deputies, charities and NGOs on the law governing the relationship between private individuals and organisations, and the government. She specialises in health and social care, mental capacity law, education law and environmental public law.
Anne-Marie has a wide-ranging public law practice, with a focus on the rights of disabled people. She has brought numerous cases challenging decisions about eligibility for statutory support, Local Authority budget cuts and the closure of public services. Case highlights include:
- R (Good Law Project) v Minister for the Cabinet Office v Public First Limited  EWCA Civ 21 – in which the Court of Appeal considered the lawfulness of government contracts issued during the COVID-19 pandemic without competition.
- Simone & ors v Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Education  EWHC 2609 (Admin) – a judicial review challenging the government’s policy for special educational needs funding.
- R (AD & Ors) v London Borough of Hackney  EWHC 943 (Admin) – a judicial review of the London Borough of Hackney’s decision to reduce funding for Special Educational Needs.
- R (on the application of Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice  EWCA Civ 1431 – a judicial review seeking to change the law on assisted dying in England and Wales.
- R (on the application of) JM and NT v Isle of Wight Council  EWHC 2911 (Admin) (11 November 2011) – a successful challenge to the Council’s decision to restrict its eligibility criteria for social care.
- In 2022 Anne-Marie acted for two disabled peoples’ organisations in their challenge to the government’s failure to produce an ‘easy-read’ version of their consultation on changes to the Human Rights Act.
Anne-Marie regularly advises clients on their eligibility for health and social care from Local Authorities and the NHS. She co-authors the community care law update for Legal Action Group magazine. Her recent cases include:
- Securing a comprehensive package of short breaks for a disabled child and his family
- Reinstating a package of care for a learning-disabled adult which had been withdrawn during the COVID-19 pandemic due to withdrawal of services
- Successfully challenging the withdrawal of continuing healthcare from a young man with complex needs
In the area of healthcare and medical treatment, Anne-Marie has particular expertise in end of life care, consent, and cases involving the intersection of medical ethics and the law. Reported cases include:
- AB v CD & others  EWHC 741 (Fam) – in which the High Court affirmed the general right of parents to consent to medical treatment on behalf of their children and confirmed that there is no general exception to this right.
- Bell and another -v- The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and others  EWCA Civ 1363 – acting for the interveners in this case which affirmed that it is for doctors, not judges, to decide on the capacity of under-16s to consent to medical treatment.
- St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v P v Q  EWCOP 42 – successfully opposing the NHS Trust’s decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment on behalf of the family of a man, for whom withdrawal of treatment would have contravened his religious beliefs.
Anne-Marie also advises patients when the NHS refuses to fund treatment, including providing advice on Individual Funding Requests for rare and complex treatments.
Anne-Marie has a wealth of experience in health and welfare cases in the Court of Protection and the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court, particularly in matters involving medical treatment and deprivation of liberty. She regularly advises clients in applications for personal welfare deputyship. She is an Accredited Legal Representative under the Law Society’s Mental Capacity (Welfare) Scheme. She is able to advise on media attention in high-profile cases, including where there is a need for reporting restrictions and/or anonymity. Recent cases include:
- Representing a learning-disabled man, to seek authorisation of a general anaesthetic needed to provide urgent podiatry treatment
- Acting as Accredited Legal Representative for a woman with dementia who was deprived of her liberty, alongside her husband, after the Local Authority moved them from their family home of 50 years to a care home
- Representing the family member of a learning-disabled woman, to challenge restrictions on their contact
- Representing the family member of a learning-disabled man, seeking an order that it is in his best interests to move from supported living, to return to live with her
Reported judgments include:
- Westminster City Council v Manuela Sykes  EWCOP B9 – a landmark case in the Court of Protection, being the first case in which the Court of Protection permitted publication of photographs of the respondent in accordance with her wishes, and a successful application to allow Ms Sykes to return to live in her own home.
- Aamir Mazhar v Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust  EWCA Civ 1377 – which resulted in judicial guidance regarding applications under the inherent jurisdiction in relation to vulnerable adults, particularly urgent out of hours applications.
Anne-Marie represents parents and individuals appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal regarding Education, Health and Care Plans (‘EHCP’) and assessments, supporting them to obtain suitable provision including additional 1:1 and therapy support and placements at specialist independent schools and colleges. Alongside her Tribunal work, Anne-Marie has acted for children in claims for judicial review relating to the allocation of public funding for special educational needs.
Anne-Marie acts for Claimants in environmental litigation, including claims for judicial review and statutory review within the scope of the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the “Aarhus Convention”). She is a member of the Environmental Law Foundation pro bono scheme. Reported judgments include:
- R (Sofia Sheakh) v London Borough of Lambeth  EWHC 1745 (Admin) and SM v London Borough of Hackney  EWHC 3294 (Admin) – which considered the validity of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods created in response to the pandemic, and compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty.
- R (Gibson) v Waverley Borough Council and another  EWHC 1472 (Admin) (30 May 2012) – in which the High Court quashed the Council’s decision to grant planning permission to develop the former home of novelist Arthur Conan-Doyle, a listed building.
- R (on the Application of Lewis) v Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council  UKSC 11 – Anne-Marie assisted in this landmark case which challenged the decision not to register a piece of land as a town or village green, in which the Supreme Court determined the meaning of ‘as of right’ under the Commons Act 2006.
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