Jane Oldham

Jane Oldham

Professional Summary

Called 1985

Contact Details

E T +44 (0)20 7632 8500 Clerk Tom Street Clerk Christopher Smith E

Jane Oldham specialises in  public,  local  government,  information, education and public  procurement law. Jane has appeared at all appellate levels. The directories have ranked  Jane consistently as a leading junior in public and administrative, local government and education law, saying in 2020 that “She is very effective, persuasive and a good lawyer” “really good at communicating with clients” and “A very well-respected barrister”.

Specialisms

Public

Jane practises principally in public and administrative  law and has wide experience of judicial review litigation.

She has  practised  also  in commercial law and has particular experience in cases at the intersection of these areas, such  as the Interest Rate Swap litigation between banks and local authorities, public procurement, European Regional Development Fund disputes, information law  disputes  concerning commercial matters, restitution claims arising from ultra vires activity, and litigation about wrongful trading through companies in which local authorities have interests.

Other public law expertise includes  judicial  review  concerning utilities, civil aviation, higher and further education (including funding), broadcasting, health service (health authorities’ proposed financial arrangements, hospital closures, pharmacies, dentists’ and GPs’ contracts with health bodies), museums galleries and film bodies, bodies regulating professions including the legal profession, police bodies.

Recent (2019) work includes:

  • Successfully challenging a decision concerning health care of people in police custody.
  • Advising on public law aspects of a transport app.
  • Advising a national public body on participation in a nine-figure bond.
  • Acting in a JR challenge to the use of isolation booths in a school.
  • Resisting a JR challenge to an urban healthy streets project.
  • Advising whether a university can sub-contract its Equality Act duties.
  • Advising on vires, procurement and state aid aspects of a proposed transaction between a public body and a private investor to finance installation of electric car charging points.
  • Advising whether a proposal of a national cultural institution contravened state aid rules.

Other public law cases include acting in a 2018 JR challenge to a school’s haircut policy (prohibition of dreadlocks),  representing solicitor claimants in four of the many procurement challenges in 2016 to the Lord Chancellor’s procurement of two-tier criminal legal aid contracting (the challenge resulted in the government withdrawing the entire procurement); a 2015 Supreme Court decision about declaratory relief and costs in judicial review where an error of law has been found but no relief given by the lower court; a 2015 decision about delegation of power and the scope of DPP v Haw and the Carltona principle;  and judicial reviews of some of the earliest Council Tax Support Schemes and of the 2012 English GCSE Awards.

Commercial

Commercial judicial review: see Jane’s public, local government, information and public procurement law pages.

Jane practises principally in public and administrative  law and has wide experience of judicial review litigation; she has practised also  in commercial law and has particular experience in cases at the intersection of these areas, such as the Interest Rate Swap litigation between banks and local authorities, public procurement, European Regional Development Fund disputes, information law  disputes  concerning commercial matters, restitution claims arising from ultra vires activity, and litigation about wrongful trading through companies in which local authorities have interests.

Media & Privacy

Jane has been instructed extensively for and against public authorities and for the Information Commissioner on GDPR, DPA, ECHR Art 8, Freedom of Information Act and EIR issues and has acted in both Information Tribunal (over 30 cases, see selection below) and High Court matters. She has a strong record on behalf of her clients of participating in or responding to ICO investigations effectively,

Jane’s recent (2018-19) work includes:

  • GDPR issues.
  • Controversial subject access requests.
  •  Internet delisting disputes.
  •  Protection of  commercial interests in the FOIA and EIR fields.
  • Scope of duties in respect of a data breach (student personal data).
  •  DPA duties in the context of disciplinary action by professional regulatory bodies.
  •  Disputes about release of reports in the regulatory sphere.

She has been on the Information Commissioner’s List of Counsel and has contributed to the Information Law Reports.

Jane has also advised and appeared in collateral interventions in proceedings in which disclosure issues have been raised. For example the challenge to the lawfulness of the government’s policy concerning the detention of children of unsuccessful asylum-seekers pending their deportation, in which she intervened successfully for a Local Children’s Safeguarding Board concerning the disclosure of a Serious Case Review about detained children (Suppiah v Sec State for Home Dept and Others [2011] EWHC 2 (Admin)).

Education

Jane acts in matters concerning all levels of educational bodies.

Jane’s recent (2019) education work includes:

  • JR challenge to use of isolation booths in a school.
  • Complex reference before the Office for Students concerning a university’s research funding.
  • Acting for university resisting claw-back of European Regional Development Funding for research project with commercial sector.
  • Advising university on scope of duties in respect of a data breach (student personal data).
  • Advising on a university’s proposal to sub-contract its duties under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Advising whether a university can give financial assistance, for the payment of a statutory penalty, to its indebted student union.

Examples of other work include:

  •  JR challenge to a school’s haircut policy prohibiting wearing hair in dreadlocks (2018).
  • Acting for the council in a Supreme Court hearing in 2015 in a matter originating from an Education Act 1996 challenge to funding cuts in youth services.
  •  Advising in disputes about liabilities for school deficits and transfers of property (including special needs facilities used by several schools) on conversion to academy status.
  • Issues arising from regulatory reports about further and higher education bodies.
  • The judicial review of the 2012 English GCSEs.
  • Academies’ admissions arrangements and admissions appeals.
  • Funding disputes between universities and  affiliated bodies.
  • A challenge to a decision to fund closure of a college and transfer its courses to a different institution.
  • Appropriate remedy for use of incorrect assessment criteria in student examination.
  • Freedom of information in the education context.

European Union

Extensive experience in ERDF Funding disputes.

Human Rights

Human rights issues arise frequently across Jane’s specialisms.

Information

Jane has been instructed extensively for and against public authorities and for the Information Commissioner on Freedom of Information Act, EIR, GDPR and DPA, and ECHR Art 8 issues and has acted in both Information Tribunal (over 30 cases, see selection below) and High Court matters. She has a strong record on behalf of her clients of participating in or responding to ICO investigations effectively.

She has been on the Information Commissioner’s List of Counsel and has contributed to the Information Law Reports.

Frequently instructed in relation to protection of commercial interests in the FOIA, EIR and GDPR/DPA fields, controversial subject access requests, internet de-listing disputes, data sharing (including data sharing protocols and agreements), DPA duties in the context of disciplinary action by professional regulatory bodies, and disputes about release of reports in the regulatory sphere.

Recent (2019) work includes:

  • Pharmacists Defence Union v NHS Business Services Limited (EA/2019/0239) (FOI) (ongoing).
  • Advising on disclosure of personal data of drivers involved in car accidents.
  • ICO investigation into use of personal data to provide automatic opt-in for unwanted commercial discount scheme.
  • Advising university on scope of duties in respect of a data breach (student personal data).
  • ICO investigation into EIR dispute about disclosure of verbatim responses to a public consultation.
  • ICO investigation into EIR dispute about disclosure of a hospital’s information about the fire safety of the building materials used in its construction.

Jane has also advised and appeared in collateral interventions in proceedings in which disclosure issues have been raised. For example the challenge to the lawfulness of the government’s policy concerning the detention of children of unsuccessful asylum-seekers pending their deportation, in which she intervened successfully for a Local Children’s Safeguarding Board concerning the disclosure of a Serious Case Review about detained children (Suppiah v Sec State for Home Dept and Others [2011] EWHC 2 (Admin)).

Local Government

Jane advises and appears regularly in cases at all levels concerning local government.

Recent (2019) work includes:

  • Advice and advocacy concerning innovative investment schemes, particularly in the light of the recent increase in the PWLB borrowing rate.
  • Issues arising from public consultations.
  • Public sector equality duty issues.
  • Governance issues (including lawfulness of certain council appointments).
  • Advice on an authority’s regeneration scheme (vires).
  • Councillors’ rights to see information.
  • Councillors’ conduct.
  • Advising on dispute between a precepting fire authority and a local authority as to calculation of precept.
  • Auditor’s investigation of money spent by authority on its regeneration scheme.
  • Auditor’s investigation  concerning whether an authority sold land in breach of its section 123 LGA 1972 consideration duty.
  • Whether a local authority had to repay penalties it had imposed ultra vires, and if so to what extent.
  • Whether a local authority’s  proposed scheme engaged procurement rules.
  • Whether a local authority’s policy on applications for discretionary reductions of council tax was lawful.

Examples of the breadth of Jane’s local government practice include:

  • Vires.
  • Budget setting.
  • Council tax (including council tax reduction schemes).
  • Governance (including changing from one form to another).
  • Monitoring issues.
  • Public sector equality duty (particularly in the context of spending cuts).
  •  Consultation.
  • Local authority interaction with commercial and third sector bodies.
  •  Testing the scope of the Localism Act general power of competence.
  •  Issues arising from large capital projects undertaken by public bodies.
  • District auditor investigations and public interest reports (one involving proceedings about £120 million of challenged expenditure of public funds) for both local authority and auditing body.
  • Restitution claims arising from ultra vires activity.
  • Capital finance.
  •  Public procurement.
  • FOIA and Environmental Information Regulations.
  • Data protection and GDPR  (including sensitive data sharing with other agencies), subject access requests, release of reports on social care matters and serious case reviews.
  • Education.
  • Disputes with central government about grants.
  • Local authority funding disputes with health bodies including resisting NHS claims for restitution of continuing health funding payments.
  • Disputes about exemptions and discounts from business rates.
  •  BID levies.
  • Applications to list assets of community value – including listing, for the first time, an entire mountain, Blencathra.
  •  Disputes with transport bodies eg TfL.
  • Private landlord licensing schemes.
  •  Social impact bonds.
  •  Successfully resisting DCLG attempts to claw back ERDF funding.
  • Service-sharing agreements with other councils.
  • Provision of services to non-council entities.
  • Representing local authorities in mediations.

Jane has particular experience in cases at the intersection of local government/public and commercial issues, such as the Interest Rate Swap litigation between banks and  local authorities, public procurement, European Regional Development Fund disputes, information law disputes concerning commercial matters,  restitution claims arising from ultra vires activity, and litigation about wrongful trading through companies in which local authorities have interests.

Mediation & Arbitration

Jane has represented local authorities in mediations.

Public Procurement

Jane regularly advises both public authorities and tenderers on a wide range of procurement problems at all stages of tender processes. She has frequently enabled them, respectively, to deter proposed challenges, and to persuade public authorities to recommence tendering procedures. Examples of subject matter include: scoring of tenders, duties of equal  and non-discriminatory treatment and transparency, whether a tender process is necessary at  all, frameworks, use of negotiated procedure, PQQ requirements about financial standing, changes in corporate structure of preferred bidder.

Recent work (2019) includes:

  • Successful challenge to contract decision concerning health care of people in custody.
  • Acting for  a university challenging claw-back of ERDF funds on grounds of alleged breach of procurement rules.
  • Advising on procurement and state aid aspects of a proposed transaction between a public body and a private investor to finance installation of electric car charging points.
  • Advising local authority whether its proposal engaged public procurement rules.

Other cases include: acting in 2015-2016 for the solicitor claimants in four of the many High Court procurement challenges seeking to set aside the government’s procurement of two-tier criminal legal aid contracting  (the procurement, said to be among the largest and most  complex tender processes undertaken by central government, was then abandoned by the Lord Chancellor in January 2016); acting for a trade union in its judicial review challenge to NHS PCTs’ proposed outsourcing of their family health services.

Acted successfully in 2015 and 2016 for grant recipients resisting government attempts, on procurement grounds, to claw back European Regional Development Fund funding.

Recommendations

2020:

“She is very effective, persuasive and a good lawyer.” Chambers & Partners

“A very well-respected barrister.” Chambers & Partners

“She is really good at communicating with clients.” Legal 500

 

2019:

“She is an excellent barrister”.

“Her advice is focused, accurate and always prompt”.

Chambers & Partners

 

2018:

“She’s thorough, detailed, fully engaged and a pleasure to deal with”

“She has an ability to explain complex procurement issues with a calm and warm approach”.

“Jane is very experienced and highly thought of”.

“A quality practitioner who has been handling education cases for many years”.

Chambers & Partners

 

2017:

“gets straight to the heart of an issue and gives  clear, concise advice”, is “razor sharp, very approachable and particularly well-informed”,   has “ a fine track record of handling sophisticated public, information and education law matters” and “a particularly client-friendly manner and the ability to summarise complex issues”, and “is particularly adept at representing clients in major appeals, while market commentators underscore her capability in complex procurement cases.”

Chambers & Partners

 

Earlier directory entries include:

“Extremely helpful and thorough.”

“She puts up a good fight.”

“Very proactive in giving advice.”

“She handles everything from pre-dispute advisory work to judicial review, and has experience   of the Supreme Court disputes.”

“A popular choice of barrister for the provision of advice to local government and other public bodies on vires matters.”

“ Her experience includes disputes relating to probity and decision-making processes.”

“She is meticulous to the nth degree, and really very sympathetic with clients.”

“A strong local government practitioner who does well in education law.”

“Pragmatic, approachable and friendly.”

“She remains a popular choice of counsel for local authorities across the country.”

“A high-profile senior junior who advises in substantial local government matters, including funding challenges and issues relating to council tax benefit arrangements.”

“Frequently handles cases involving academy, further and higher education issues.”

“She is knowledgeable, practical and forthright and very good at picking up the salient points quickly.”

“An approachable, proactive barrister who is at pains to be accessible to clients.”

“Jane’s advice and submissions benefit from her meticulous analysis of the law and are accordingly logical, concise and persuasive”

“Absolutely meticulous, with a great eye for detail in both procedure and substantive law.”

“Of late her practice has focused heavily on the effect of central government spending cuts on local authorities, and she has become a recognised specialist in this area. She is also regularly instructed in relation to powers, vires and governance matters.”

“Highly experienced and well-regarded in education law, particularly in areas where social services are intertwined with education law matters.”

“First-rate lawyer”.

“Very impressive”.

“Noted for her ability to ‘reduce complex legal arguments to the relevant bare bones’”.

“Another highly thought of junior is Jane Oldham who is praised for her “commercial sense and judgment””.

“A lawyer who “puts clients at ease””; “graciously determined advocate”.

“Jane Oldham is “a wise choice for local government matters at the intersection of commercial and public law”.

“Sources note her thorough reliability and also the fact that she advises local authorities extensively in relation to their freedom of information duties.”

“Fluent, punchy and approachable”.

“Eagle eye for detail”.

“She is enormously thorough and never misses a thing”.

“A hard worker who is extremely good”.

“barrister of choice in commercial matters”.

“immensely sensible, thorough and driven”.

“With bucket loads of experience and calm approach to advocacy that never fails to impress”.

“Interviewees praised Jane Oldham for her “genius and sheer hard work””.

“Her client care is also highlighted as a particular strength”.

“Oldham continues to be a notable force in work relating to the interface between local government and the private sector”.

“Jane Oldham is “on the ball straight away” and handles complex cases well. She is further considered an advocate who “understands the law, works well with clients, and possesses intellectual weight””.

“Jane Oldham is perceived as “a feisty lawyer who goes from strength to strength””.

“Jane Oldham also covers a wide canvas but is particularly known for the work she does relating to local authorities and their business relations with the private sector”.

Recent Cases

Pharmacists Defence Union v NHS Business Services Limited (EA/2019/0239) (FOI) (ongoing).

R (Imperial London Hotels Limited) v London Borough of Camden (2019) : resisting JR challenge to a healthy streets project.

R (Throssel) v Outwood Grange Academy Trust (2019): JR challenging use of isolation booths in a school.

R(F) v Fulham Boys’ School (2018): JR challenging haircut policy (prohibition of dreadlocks).

Rutherford v Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (2017): challenge to levy.

London Borough of Ealing v Information Commissioner (EA/2016/0013) (2017) (FOI).

Wainwright & Cummins LLP v Lord Chancellor (2015): Challenge to government’s procurement of two-tier criminal legal aid contracting.

R (Hunt) v North Somerset Council
[2015] UKSC 51, [2015] 1 WLR 3575 (judicial review remedies, costs); [2013] EWCA Civ
1320, [2014] BLGR 1 (budget-setting, PSED, consultation, remedy), [2013] 16 CCL Rep 530
(costs) ; [2012] EWHC 1928 (Admin) (18 July 2012); [2012] EqLR 951
SC: Refusal of judicial review remedy where breach of statutory duty found, no order made quashing decision and claim for declaration not pursued or formulated. Claimant’s costs recoverable, but in reduced proportion. CA and HC: Public sector equality duty and consultation challenge to Council’s budget-setting decision to reduce funding for, and review methods of provision of, youth services.

R (Hamill) v Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court
[2015] 1 WLR 1798
Delegation of power: whether lawful. Scope of DPP v Haw, Carltona principle considered.

R (Branwell) v Rochdale MBC
[2013] EWHC 1024
Consultation and equalities challenge to local authority’s council tax support scheme for 2013- 2014.

R (Lewisham London Borough Council and Others) v AQA and Ofqual
[2013] EWHC 211
Judicial review challenge to the 2012 English GCSE awards

R (UNISON) v NHS Wiltshire Primary Care Trust and Others
[2012] EWHC 624 (Admin) (15 March 2012) [2012] ACD 84
Trade union’s judicial review challenge to ten PCTs’ proposed outsourcing of their family health services in alleged breach of procurement requirements, and Wednesbury rationality.
Framework agreements, variation of contracts, time limits, standing.

R (Omotosho) v The Governing body of Harris Academy Crystal Palace
[2011] EWHC 3350 (Admin) (18 November 2011)
Judicial review of Academy school’s admission arrangements and admissions appeals process.

Davis v Information Commissioner and Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery
EA/2010/0185 (16 September 2011)
Legal professional privilege exemption in FOIA, representing the public authority.

Sikka v Information Commissioner and HM Treasury
EA/2010 0054 (12 July 2011)
Disclosure of report into collapse of BCCI; representing the Information Commissioner;

Suppiah v Sec State for Home Dept and Others
[2011] EWHC 2 (Admin) (2011) 108(4) LSG 18
Unlawful detention of failed asylum seekers and their children pending removal – intervention on behalf of Local Children’s Safeguarding Board concerning the disclosure of a Serious Case Review about detained children.

Ministry of Justice v Information Commissioner
EA/2010/0181 (10 March 2011)
Ministry of Justice’s appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision, based on the MoJ’s evidence then supplied, that a letter from the then Prime Minister to the Secretary of State for Justice relating to the End of Custody Licence Scheme, should be disclosed. Acted for the Information Commissioner.

R (M) v Oxfordshire County Council and SSHD
(June 2010): CO/133379/2009 and CO/12546/2009
Age assessment of asylum-seeker. This was one of the first judicial reviews of age assessment of asylum seeking children post- the decision of the Supreme Court in R (A) v LB Croydon [2009] UKSC 8.

Youth Justice Board v Information Commissioner and Children’s Rights Alliance for England
EA/ 2010/0013
Disclosure of training manual re restraint techniques used on children in custody, representing the Information Commissioner resisting the appeal against his decision that it should be disclosed, resulting in the YJB withdrawing its appeal and disclosing the information.

Dun v Information Commissioner and National Audit Office
EA/2010/0060
Representing the National Audit Office.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council v Information Commissioner
UKIT [2010] EA/2009/ 0069
Disclosure under Environmental Information Regulations of property search information for HIPs, and whether power to charge for disclosure.

Financial Services Authority v Information Commissioner
[2009] EWHC 1548 and 1784 (Admin)
Degree to which context of request for information to be taken into account in considering exemption under Freedom of Information Act 2000; whether certain information about financial services providers is confidential information under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 so that disclosure is prohibited under that act and so exempt under section 44 FOIA. Munby J also made observations about the role of both the IC and the public authority in appeals from the Tribunal, for the purposes of costs orders. Costs: [2009] EWHC 1784 (Admin).

Department of Transport v Information Commissioner
(2009)
Whether procurement information about train company franchises should be disclosed; appeal to Information Tribunal. After a partial hearing, the appeal was withdrawn. Jane appeared for the Information Commissioner resisting the appeal.

RMGL v Information Commissioner
(2009)
Whether information about Royal Mail Group Limited’s spending should be disclosed. Appeal to Information Tribunal, Jane appeared for the Information Commissioner resisting the appeal. After a partial hearing, the appeal was withdrawn.

Financial Services Authority v Information Commissioner
[2009] UKIT EA/2008/0061
Representing the Information Commissioner.

Secretary of State for Health v Crouch and (1) South Birmingham Primary Care Trust (2) British Dental Association
[2009] ICR 461, [2008] EWCA Civ 1365
Acted for the British Dental Association. Construction of the principal contract for orthodontists and whether Primary Care Trusts had a unilateral right of termination.

R (Swords) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
[2007] EWCA Civ 795
Housing transfers by local authority to housing association under government’s “decent homes” policy; lawfulness of Secretary of State’s consent. Appeared for the housing association.

R (Save Dartington College Limited) v South West Regional Development Agency and University College Falmouth
CO/2008/1893
Representing University College Falmouth– closure of Dartington College and transfer of its courses to university; security for costs in judicial review where claimant formed company.

Lawton v Information Commissioner and NHS Direct
[2008] UKIT EA/2007/0081
Representing the Information Commissioner.

Tuckley v Information Commissioner
[2008] UKIT EA/2006/0077
Representing the Information Commissioner.

Financial Services Authority v Information Commissioner and Riverstone Management Agency Ltd
[2008] UKIT EA/2008/0047
Disclosure by Financial Services Authority. Representing the Information Commissioner.

Boddy v (1) Information Commissioner and (2) North Norfolk County Council
[2008] UKIT EA/2007/0074
Legal professional privilege; representing the Information Commissioner.

Brook Area Residents and Shopkeepers Group v Information Commissioner and Birmingham City Council
[2008] UKIT EA/2006/0077
Whether a body is a “publicly owned company” within FOIA (relationship of local authority with a company): representing the Information Commissioner.

North Western and North Wales Sea Fisheries Committee v Information Commissioner
[2008] UKIT EA/2007/0133
Whether information is environmental information; commercially confidential information; representing the Information Commissioner.

Welsh v Information Commissioner
[2008] UKIT EA/2007/0088
Whether a request for information is vexatious (in the medical context); representing the Information Commissioner.

McBride v Information Commissioner and Ministry of Justice (formerly Privy Council)
[2008] UKIT EA/2007/0105
Whether information is “held” for the purposes of FOIA; representing the Information Commissioner.

Craven v Information Commissioner
[2008] UKIT EA/2008/0002
Disclosure by Financial Services Authority.

Salmon v Information Commissioner
[2008] UKIT EA/2007/0135
Application of FOIA to college within a collegiate university, and whether information held is confidential information; representing the Information Commissioner.

Hargrave v Information Commissioner
[2007] UKIT EA/2007/0041
Law enforcement (detection of crime, administration of justice, in the context of an unsolved murder case)); representing the Information Commissioner.

Education

MA (Cantab). (Law, Trinity College, Cambridge.)

Other

Languages, scholarships, memberships:

Jane was called to the Bar in 1985 and was awarded prizes and scholarships by Trinity College, Cambridge, where she read law, and Middle Temple. She is a member of the Administrative Law Bar Association, the Commercial Bar Association, the Procurement Lawyers’ Association and (in relation to her local government practice) the Planning and Environmental Law Bar Association. Jane practised part-time between 1992 and 2010, plus various periods of family leave during that time, and returned to full-time practice at the end of 2010.

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Professional title: Barrister

Full name (as registered with Bar Standards Board of England and Wales): Jane Oldham

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