On graduating in 1984, Jon Holbrook served as a sabbatical officer (Academic and Welfare Secretary) for Sheffield University Students Union before working as a housing advisor, first in Camden and then for Westminster City Council. He then trained to be a lawyer and was called to the bar in 1991.
His thirty year legal career ended in 2021 when he was cancelled by the woke. Between 1991 and 2004 Holbrook was in a ‘left-wing’ chambers, Garden Court, but he then earned the left’s ire when he joined Cornerstone Barristers and developed a practice acting for public bodies (mostly local authorities and housing associations) and landlords. His transition, as poacher turned gamekeeper, was marked in 2005 when he initiated the formation of the Social Housing Law Association as a forum for social housing professionals and their lawyers, which he chaired until 2008.
Holbrook did not apply for silk in the belief that it would be pointless given his developing political reputation, but he was frequently pitted against QCs, as in these cases in the Court of Appeal and the High Court (he won them both). A legal directory noted that Holbrook provided a ‘QC service’. Other comments made by grateful clients, as quoted in the legal directories, which rated Holbrook as a leading junior for public law and social housing, included:
‘the fount of all knowledge’ who has ‘an exceptional intellect’ tempered by a ‘down-to-earth manner’
He has been involved in some high-profile cases and is ‘particularly commended for his judicial review work’
He is ‘a leading light with the set’ and known for his ‘strong advocacy, straight and honest advice’
Jon is very calm and assured. He has a great wealth of legal knowledge and is able to convey complex issues clearly. He is friendly and approachable and I have always felt cases are in “safe hands” when Jon is instructed.
Always brilliant. He combines remarkable understanding of the law with standout client relationship skills.
If there is a particularly complex issue, he is the go-to man. He is very calm, measured and good on his feet. A pleasure to deal with, he gives very sound and comprehensive advice.
He has a fantastic intellect; he gets to the heart of a matter.Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 on various occasions from 2016 onwards
Having started off as a housing lawyer Jon Holbrook soon moved into public law and was frequently seen as a go-to barrister to act for local authorities and other public bodies when they had tricky cases to defend that often raised cutting-edge issues of law and policy. He was regularly instructed to resist claims brought by claimants relying on human rights or equality laws.
In his last year in practice Holbrook did not lose a single case and his successes included wins in the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum) here and here.
Some of Holbrook’s reported cases can be accessed here:
- Holbrook v Bar Standards Board Case 2021/4441, 25 March 2022
Asylum seekers claiming to be children
- WK v Kent CC  EWHC 939 (Admin)
- M v Lambeth LBC  UKSC 8
- R(AM) v Solihull MBC  UKUT 118
- Croydon LBC v Y  EWCA Civ 398
- AN v Harrow LBC  24 April, UKUT
- DK v Harrow LBC  17 Feb, UKUT
‘No recourse to public funds’ immigrants seeking services
- R(Blackburn-Smith) v Lambeth LBC  EWHC 767 (Admin)
- R(Antwa) v Lambeth LBC  EWHC 3878 (Admin)
- R(Ncube) v Brighton & Hove CC  EWHC 3646 (Admin)
- Conde v Lambeth LBC  EWHC 62 (Admin)
Equality Act arguments
- R(Meany) v Harlow DC  EWHC 559 (Admin)
- R(Barrett) v Lambeth LBC  EWHC 4557 (Admin)
Human rights arguments
- Manchester CC v Mushin  EWCA Civ 336
- Holmes v Westminster CC  EWHC 2857 (QB)
- O’Connell v Viridian Housing  EWHC 1389 (QB)
- Lawal v Circle 33 Housing Trust  EWCA Civ 1514
- R(Macleod) v Peabody Trust  EWHC 737 (Admin)
- R(Lawer) v Restormel BC  EWHC 2299 (Admin)
- R(Casey) v Restormel BC  EWHC 2554 (Admin)
Court of Protection
- DL v Enfield LBC  EWCOP B1
General public law
- Lambeth LBC v Ireneschild  EWCA Civ 234
- R(Okil) v Southwark LBC  EWHC 1202 (Admin)
- R(Bokrosova) v Lambeth LBC  EWHC 3386 (Admin)
- R(Plant) v Lambeth LBC  EWHC 3324 (Admin)
- R(Harvey) v Leighton Linslade Town Council  EWHC 760 (Admin)
- R(AT & BT) v Barnet LBC  EWHC 3404 (Admin)
General common law
- First Real Estates Ltd v Birmingham CC  EWHC 817 (Admin)
- Gregory v Thames Magistrates Court & Tower Hamlets LBC  EWHC 2125 (Admin)
- Tower Hamlets LBC v Naris  EWHC 886 (Ch)
General housing and homelessness
- Santos v Compatriot Holdings Ltd  EWCA Civ 863
- Lambeth LBC v Johnston  EWCA Civ 690
- Crown Estates Commissioners v Peabody Trust  EWHC 1467 (Ch)
- Bromley LBC v Broderick  EWCA Civ 1522