Call: 1972    Silk: 1991
George Laurence QC  

"His knowledge is unsurpassed and his insight is deeply impressive.
Property Litigation - Legal 500 2019

"He is quite simply the ultimate authority on public rights of way" Agriculture & Rural Affairs - Chambers UK Bar 2018

+44 (0) 20 7419 8000

Practice Overview


I have always tried very hard to win "unwinnable" cases, by which I mean cases where the law needs to be developed in some way (if necessary by overruling a previous case), in order to achieve victory.  See my many footpath and village green cases in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

I also try to be innovative - for example, in Greenwich Healthcare v London & Quadrant Housing Trust [1998] 1 WLR 1749, I persuaded the court to declare that if the defendant were in future to seek an injunction against the plaintiff, the court would refuse it, thus enabling, an important hospital development to proceed. 

It follows that I will always give my support, provided I believe in their merits, to courageous clients who are willing to risk losing 3:2 in the Supreme Court (for a recent example, see DCC v TRF [2015] UKSC 18). 

"He is so charming and self-effacing in the way he deals with matters. He goes through authorities with great care."

Chambers UK Bar 2017 - Chancery Traditional

"He is more than usually determined to win a case and more than usually prepared to put in the work and to use creativity to that end"

Chambers UK Bar 2013 - Real Estate litigation

  • Property
    • The legal position relating to open spaces in in town and country and commons

      I am regarded as a leading practitioner in the country on the law as it relates to town and village greens.  Of the eight cases on the subject which have reached the House of Lords or Supreme Court since 2000 (I appeared in all of them), the Supreme Court heard four in 2014 alone: Paddico, Betterment, Barkas and Newhaven

      The Court clarified many obscure and/or unresolved points relating to the prescriptive acquisition of recreational rights over land and what to do when your land is wrongly registered as a green. 

      I have sometimes acted in these cases for the public, at other times for landowners or the local authority, to avoid being typecast as an advocate who appears only on one particular side.  This is always important, but especially so when appearing in the higher-profile appellate courts. 

      Recent directory acknowledgements include:

      "He's immensely impressive, intellectually rounded and someone with a huge depth ofknowledge in village green matters and property law more generally."
      "He combines a great legal mind with great advocacy skills."

      Chambers UK Bar 2017 - Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

      "Extremely personable with huge technical knowledge"
      Legal 500 2016 - Administrative and Public Law

      He is an exceptional barrister and an exceptional person.  He possesses both intellectual prowess and also extremely fine client-care skills
      Chambers UK Bar 2015 - Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

      Litigation

      I have been specialising in property access issues during all my time as a Queen’s Counsel (and before that as a junior).  These cases give rise to very acute conflicts of interest.  Typically one party is claiming, or claiming to be entitled to do something on or over, another’s land very much against the latter’s will.  Often the issue is whether an ancient track in the countryside is in law a public highway or, if it is, whether these who would like to use it with motorbikes for recreation have had their rights taken away by legislation.  Amongst the approximately 50 cases in which I have been involved in the higher courts on such issues are Godmanchester (2008, HL), Dorset (2015, SC), Kidner (2010), Winchester (2009, CA), Powell (2014), and Fortune (2012, CA). 

      He has a brilliant mind and he’s absolutely outstanding at finding new legal angles for his clients” 
      Chambers UK Bar 2014 Chancery Traditional (Leading Silk)

      Town & Country

      Major infrastructure projects in Parliamentand planning.

      I have appeared many times as a barrister in Parliament on private bills.  These have involved projects as varied as the Channel Tunnel (acting for European Ferries), the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (acting for the Country Land Owners Association), Crossrail (acting for the Corporation of London and British Land), the Dartford Crossing Bridge (acting for Kent and Essex County Councils) and protecting public access to Lincoln’s Inn Fields (acting for the Soane Museum and Royal College of Surgeons). 

      Much of this work is related to town and country planning in which I have a considerable interest especially on the interface between planning and highway/access issues.  See for example Hall v SoSE (1998) JPL 1055.  Cases like these are often time-sensitive, technical and affect the quality of people’s lives.  I am glad to be involved in them. 

      Further recent directory acknowledgements include:

      "The doyen of rights of way law"
      Legal 500 2016 - Property Litigation

      "His knowledge is encyclopaedic, and his imaginative submissions contribute to the development of the law." 
      Legal 500 2015 - Property Litigation

      His superlative property, planning and public law practice is highly rated by peers and clients alike
      Chambers UK Bar 2012 - Chancery Traditional

  • Additional Information

Cases



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