Legal career

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:

Professional discipline

Asylum seekers claiming to be children

‘No recourse to public funds’ immigrants seeking services

EU citizenship

Equality Act arguments

Human rights arguments

Inter relief

Court of Protection

General public law

General common law

General housing and homelessness