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BPTC student who used legal skills to bring judicial review succeeds in having her dad’s benefits reinstated

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Solicitors and barristers agreed to help Anita Dowman pro bono after they saw Legal Cheek’s appeal

Anita Dowman and her son

A Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) student has successfully had her seriously ill father’s benefits reinstated after she brought a judicial review against the Department for Work and Pensions.

Using skills she’d acquired at bar school, Anita Dowman drafted court documentation in which she argued her dad was “reliant financially solely on his benefit money”. She said the government’s decision to disallow his Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) — which he receives because he suffers from Crohn’s disease and complex fistulas and weighs just 49 kilograms — was unlawful on a number of grounds. These grounds included article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment).

Legal Cheek covered Dowman’s case earlier this month while she was awaiting a listings date in the High Court. At the time, BPP student Dowman confessed she needed help preparing the case and was keen to find a lawyer.

Since then, a number of lawyers — solicitors and barristers — stepped forward to offer their services, some on a pro bono basis. Dowman told us that while “ultimately the ground work was done”, their “time and advice” was very much appreciated. 42 Bedford Row’s Christi Scarborough, Edward Veale from Hodge Jones & Allen, and Matthew Jackson of Invictus Chambers were, in particular, “very helpful”.

In the end, the case didn’t reach the courtroom. Dowman has informed us the matter was settled outside of court, with the government admitting it “made an incorrect decision”. She is happy to say her dad’s ESA has now been reinstated, and she’s very thankful for the support she’s received.

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