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Polly Sweeney

Polly Sweeney


Polly is outstanding in every single area, I would not hesitate to recommend her services. She puts her clients at the very heart of what she does and remains focused and committed to ensure their needs are met. Chambers and Partners 2024

Polly Sweeney is a cut above the rest when it comes to supporting clients to get the best and right provision for their children with special needs. She is the type of litigator that every family needs – she’s tenacious, powerful, calm and focused whilst putting her clients at ease knowing they have the best advice. She’s exceptionally bright and detail orientated and an utter pleasure to deal with. – Legal 500 2024

Polly has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the education system as well as infinite kindness and compassion for her clients. Her support has been invaluable. Her approach is conciliatory, but extremely effective. – Legal 500 2024

Polly is an award winning and nationally recognised expert in public law and human rights with a strong commitment to access to justice and promoting the rights of vulnerable people.

She specialises in education law, community care, healthcare and medical treatment, and cases in the Court of Protection, and has a particular interest in cases involving children and young people. She is an Accredited Legal Representative under the Law Society’s Mental Capacity (Welfare) Scheme and able to act for individuals in applications challenging the deprivation of their liberty.

Polly is one of just four lawyers ranked in Band 1 by Chambers and Partners, 2023 for Education: Individuals (UK-Wide).

She was Chair of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Disability Committee from 2019 to 2022, and is a contributing author to the leading Legal Action Group publication – Disabled Children Handbook (2nd and 3rd editions). She regularly provides training to organisations as well as individuals, promoting awareness of legal rights and duties, and has been asked to give oral evidence to a number of parliamentary groups and inquiries.

Polly was named “Gazette Legal Personality of the Year” at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards 2020 for her ‘high profile campaigning role in litigation to maintain the educational rights of children with special educational needs’. She was also named Solicitor of the Year at Bristol Law Society Awards in 2014 and Assistant / Associate of the Year at Birmingham Law Society Awards in 2012. Polly was profiled in the Law Society Gazette in September 2021 about her journey into public law and human rights.

Polly’s reported cases include:

  • UA-2022-000925-HS Waldron v Hampshire County Council – Polly represented the Appellant in a successful appeal to the Upper Tribunal in relation to an appeal regarding a Young Person’s Education, Health and Care Plan and placement at an independent residential college.
  • R (KG) v HF Trust Ltd – Polly acted for the Claimant in a judicial review of a private care home provider’s decision to close on the basis the decision was contrary to her Article 8 rights. The case is of interest because it concerns the interpretation and application of s.73 of the Care Act 2014 (on which there is currently no authority), which sets out the circumstances in which private care providers will be subject to obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998. It is understood this is the first case where the court has granted permission on these grounds. The Defendant withdrew its decision to close after permission was granted.
  • R (Shaw and another) v Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWHC 2216 (Admin) – Polly was instructed to act for the claimants in this high-profile challenge to a number of statutory instruments which downgraded the entitlements of children and young people with special educational needs in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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