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Alexander Line

Alexander Line

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Alex is a civil practitioner whose practice is focused particularly on the areas of education, social welfare, court of protection, public law, employment and discrimination.

He regularly appears in employment tribunals, county courts and different chambers of the First-Tier Tribunal. He also has High Court, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Upper Tribunal experience.

Education

Alex has developed his practice in education law throughout his time at the Bar. It is an area he is very passionate about. He has a broad range of experience including special educational needs; civil claims involving schools, colleges and universities; claims of discrimination arising in education; internal hearings in schools and universities; fitness to practice issues concerning university students and teachers; admissions and exclusion; and public law claims in the education context.

Special Educational Needs and Disability

Alex has experience of all types of statutory appeals within the jurisdiction of the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs & Disability). He has previous experience of the law under the Education Act 1996 and his practice has developed with the changes to SEN law incorporated by the Children and Families Act 2014.

Representing  both appellants and a number of different local authority respondents within this jurisdiction, Alex is an experienced tribunal advocate, an adept at providing pragmatic strategic advice in SEND litigation. He provides regular training on developments in SEN law and litigation strategy.

Alex also has a depth of experience in the area of disability discrimination within the First-tier Tribunal’s jurisdiction under the Equality Act 2010. He is particularly well-suited to representing parties to these claims due to his broader experience of discrimination law arising from his employment practice. He has also been instructed on many occasions in employment tribunal proceedings involving schools, colleges and universities.

Cases

An appeal concerning a child with a rare and complex genetic condition called ‘Sub Cortical Laminar Band Heterotopia’, which resulted in global difficulties affecting her cognitive profile and with specific learning needs in connection to her speech and language. The appeal involved the consideration of complex medical evidence from Neuropsychologists; Educational Psychologists; Speech and Language Therapists; Occupational Therapists; and Physiotherapists.

A claim against the governing body of a local authority school for disability discrimination arising from the permanent exclusion of a child with ADHD. The circumstances of the exclusion related to a physical attack on another pupil.

An appeal concerning a child with severe and multiple specific learning needs resulting from a diagnosis of ASD and ADHD. The appeal involved arguments over the distinction between educational and social welfare needs as a costly waking day provision was sought at £200,000 per annum.

An appeal concerning a child with a diagnosis of ASD and ADHD whose parents were seeking an Applied Behavior Analysis (‘ABA’) approach to her education.

An appeal concerning a young person in his early twenties with a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome, who was seeking a costly residential placement with a functioning restaurant and cafeteria which he could work in, so that he could gain vocational qualifications.

An appeal concerning a young person with Cerebral Palsy where the local authority had refused to make and maintain an EHC Plan following a transfer review on the ground that the young person’s needs could be met through social care provision.

School exclusions and admissions

School exclusions is a particular niche area of Alex’s expertise. He acted as counsel for the Claimant in the case of R (CR) v Independent Review Panel of London Borough of Lambeth [2014] EWHC 2461 (Admin), which was the first judicial review of an IRP’s decision under the current DfE statutory guidance for school exclusions, and remains a leading case. Alex has experience of representing both parents and governing bodies before IRPs and of public law issues arising from this area.

Additionally Alex has experience of clerking IAPs in school admissions appeals, representing appellants, and of public law issues arising from the school admissions process (including infant class size and grammar school appeals).

Higher Education

Alex has successfully represented students in a number of internal university academic and conduct appeals, and has a strong practical understanding of the dynamics of these hearings. Examples have included allegations of academic misconduct such as plagiarism, fitness to practice issues, extenuating circumstances resulting in under performance at examinations, complaints about unfair examination practices in vivas, termination of studies, and matters over procedural impropriety and breaches of natural justice.

Alex also has experience of drafting grounds of complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education and has provided advice on OIA procedures. In some cases the OIA does not offer appropriate recourse, and here, Alex has also represented students in judicial review proceedings against universities, for example to secure urgent relief from the High Court requiring a university to permit a student to complete a retake of an examination at short notice.

Alex additionally has experience of breach of contract claims brought by students against universities and of providing advice on the merits of challenging OIA decisions on public law grounds.

Court of Protection

Alex has a developing practice in court of protection and accepts instructions in all areas of court of protection work undertaken by Chambers.

Public Law

Alex is well placed to act in public law claims in the education context and has advised on and acted in public law claims involving school exclusions, school admissions, failures by local authorities to implement special educational provision, and decisions of higher education institutions.

In the area of social welfare, Alex has acted in  public law claims concerning unaccompanied minors whose age is disputed, determining their entitlement to services under the Children Act 1989. He also has experience of public law claims under the Care Act 2014, in particular challenges to care assessments and decisions involving the residency of vulnerable adults.

Alex has recent experience of immigration law, having previously acted for the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum) in a variety of appeal types and has acted in claims under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Prior to his career at the Bar, Alex worked as a paralegal in a busy public law practice, and so has a good practical understanding and first-hand experience of the dynamics of public law litigation and the specific needs of solicitors in this area.

Employment & Discrimination

Alex has practised in employment law throughout his career at the Bar. He has a broad range of experience of representing both claimants and respondents in the Employment Tribunal, ranging from attending preliminary hearings through to undertaking complex multi-week trials. He is an experienced tribunal advocate.

Alex’s experience includes claims for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, all types of discrimination, disability status, whistleblowing, employment status, detriments, and TUPE claims. He has successfully brought and defended appeals in the EAT, and has appeared unled in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal against leading employment Silks and juniors.

Alex has particular experience of the education sector as a consequence of his education law practice. He has been instructed in a number of employment tribunal claims on behalf of teachers, members of university academic staff, schools, further education colleges and universities. He has provided representation in internal hearings before Board of Governor disciplinary committees in appeals against dismissal. He has also represented clients in a broad range of other sectors including local government, dentistry, construction, legal services, health and social care, charity, banking and retail amongst others. In addition to employment tribunal work, Alex has dealt with employment issues arising in civil claims made in the County Court.

Examples of Alex’s work include:

Attending a preliminary hearing to determine whether a service provision change had occurred affecting around 15 employees, and appearing in the EAT in an appeal arising from this case on the question of whether the Tribunal had erred in its application to Regulation 3 of TUPE.

Appearing before the Employment Tribunal in a complex two week trial against a leading Silk in a claim over protected disclosures raised by a managing director, and in the EAT following an appeal against the Tribunal’s decision on perversity grounds.

Attending a preliminary hearing to determine the question of disability status and thereafter appearing in the EAT following an appeal against the Tribunal’s findings.

Five day trial to determine whether an employee had been subject to discrimination arising from disability and whether the employer had failed in its duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Three day trial to determine whether an employee had been subject to detriment and unfair dismissal on account of his trade union activities.

Four day trial to determine whether a chief executive of a national charity had been dismissed because of raising protected disclosures.

Responding to an appeal concerning the alleged apparent bias of a tribunal judge.

Three day trial concerning an employee with learning difficulties (dyslexia) affecting in particular his reading, writing and memory in a claim for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and disability discrimination.

Advising a local authority in relation to its payment arrangements for term-time only teaching staff, in particular as to whether the arrangements amounted to less favorable treatment under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favorable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

Representing both Claimants and Respondents in numerous single and multi-day unfair dismissal trials, including redundancy-related dismissals; gross misconduct dismissals; capability dismissals; unfair constructive dismissals; and ‘forced resignation’ dismissals.

Employee status issues, for example representing a Claimant at a preliminary hearing to determine whether a dentist in private practice was an employee or a worker; and representing a Respondent at a preliminary hearing to determine the status of a handy-man working at a care home.

Representing a respondent in a two day automatic unfair dismissal pregnancy-related discrimination trial which also included claims for harassment and detriment under the ERA 1996, Maternity and Paternity Leave etc. Regulations 1999 and the EA 2010.

Representing an institute of further education in a claim for sex discrimination and victimisation brought by an unsuccessful job applicant.

Providing advice in relation to a complicated employment agency-related claim, as to whether the claimant could bring a claim for unfair dismissal against the end-user under section 103A of the ERA 1996 as an employee due to an implied relationship of employment; or, alternatively, as a worker due to detriment suffered under sections 47B and 43K.

Commercial & Chancery

Alex has particular experience of contractual claims  in the education sector, applying law that is common to many commercial relationships. He has advised and represented parties in many cases in the education sector including:

Claims for misrepresentation arising from information about further and higher education courses published in online course materials; and over breaches of express terms of contract arising from representations made in course materials provided to students at the time of registration and enrolment.Claims against independent schools and universities in relation to the quality of educational and pastoral services provided to students and breaches of the implied term of care and skill.

Breach of contract claims arising from permanent exclusion of pupils from independent schools and failures of schools to follow contractual disciplinary procedures.

Claims for breach of contract and non-payment of tuition fees between parents and independent schools; and between schools and suppliers of services to schools (for example, non-payment of fees by a school to an independent dance tutor providing extra-curricular classes to pupils at the school).Claim for specific performance by a doctor against a professional body that refused to provide professional accreditation to him despite him claiming to have satisfied the marking criteria in examinations leading to accreditation.

Disciplinary & Regulatory

Alex has experience of ‘fitness to practise’ issues arising in the higher education context, for example affecting students training to be nurses or doctors, and has experience of representing students before university panels in such cases. Alex also has experience of ‘fitness to practise’ issues concerning teaching staff working within schools, in particular where this overlaps with employment claims.

Appointments & Memberships

  • Education Lawyers Association
  • Employment Lawyers Association
  • Court of Protection Practitioners Association

Awards

  • Bedingfield Scholarship, Gray’s Inn
  • Reid Scholarship, Gray’s Inn
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