Karen Ashton

Karen Ashton is one of the founding partners of Public Law Solicitors.  She specialises in public law and human rights work, mainly in a social welfare context. She has particular experience in the community care and health fields.

Having  qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and worked for 4 years post-qualification in an inner city legal aid practice. Karen developed her public law expertise in her 5 years at the Public Law Project (the only NGO specialising in developing the legal accountability of  public authorities) first as Project Solicitor and then as Director of the organisation.  She returned to private practice in 2001.
Karen has vast experience of running judicial review cases, including cases on appeal to the Court of Appeal and  House of Lords, across a wide range of public law and human rights issues. She was the conducting solicitor:
• in the House of Lords in the leading case on the place of resources in community care eligibility decisions (R v Gloucestershire County Council ex p Barry [1997] AC 584);
• in the Court of Appeal in  R v Lord Chancellor ex p Lightfoot [1999] 4 All E.R. 593 which examined the scope of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) in the context of voluntary bankruptcy procedures; and
• to the Court of Appeal in Richmond LBC v Watson, Stennett and others [2003] 3 WLR 1127 which established that no charges can be made for after care services provided under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The involvement of policy organisations in public interest judicial review cases is has been a long standing interest and Karen is experienced in advising and conducting third party interventions. She was involved in developing and conducting the early research on this subject at the Public Law Project, and provided witness evidence from a large number of not for profit legal service organisations in the case of R  v Lord Chancellor ex p Witham  [1997] 2 All E.R. 779.

Karen is currently acting for one of the appellants in  a  challenge to the application of the asset freezing regime to the families of  those suspected of terrorism (R (on the application of M and Others )  v HM Treasury [2007] All ER (D) 71), now on appeal to the House of Lords and referred to the European Court of Justice.

Karen is cited by Chambers Directory as a leading practitioner in the field of public law. She has provided consultancy support and training to a wide range of organisations, including law centres, CABx and local authorities. She writes regularly for Legal Action, in particular as co-author of the regular 6-monthly Community Care Update and is an accredited been selected as community care peer reviewer for the Legal Services Commission.