BPTC student uses skills she’s learnt on bar course to challenge government’s decision to strip her dad of his benefits

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By Katie King on

Anita Dowman admits she ‘wouldn’t have had a clue’ how to bring the case without her law studies

Anita Dowman and her son
Anita Dowman and her son

A Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) student has been representing her dad in a judicial review challenge at the same time as juggling her studies.

BPP law student Anita Dowman will argue before the High Court that the Department for Work and Pensions’ decision to disallow his Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is unlawful on a number of grounds. These grounds include article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment). She admits that without having studied for the bar, she “wouldn’t have had a clue” she could bring a case like this.

According to court documentation — written up by Dowman using skills she’s acquired on her course — her father suffers from Crohn’s disease and complex fistulas. He is in constant pain and weighs just 49 kilograms. She says he is “extremely ill and reliant financially solely on his benefit money”.

Dowman — who received scholarships from Middle Temple and BPP to fund her BPTC — hopes that by bringing this judicial review, her dad’s allowance will be reinstated. His ESA was pulled because he did not attend a medical assessment.

The LLB law graduate told Legal Cheek that working on this case has focused her career aspirations. She said:

Even though I’m doing this for my dad, it’s made me realise public law is what I want to do. I want to help people.

However, Dowman fears her barrister dreams will be blighted by her academic record. She obtained a 2:2 at undergraduate level and failed parts of her bar course because her son’s dad died. “I’ll never get a pupillage”, she told us.

Dowman’s case will be listed in the High Court for a date after 3 March, when the court will decide whether to grant permission to appeal. If so, the court will proceed immediately with the substantive claim.

Because she doesn’t have rights of audience, Dowman will have to ask the court for permission to give oral submissions on her dad’s behalf. However, she’s really keen to find a barrister. If you think you might be the right person for the case, please contact us.

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