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Rowan Smith

Senior associate solicitor

Rowan Smith is a senior associate solicitor in the human rights department.

Climate change Environment Human rights Judicial review Planning Wildlife

Rowan Smith is a dedicated public lawyer, specialising in judicial review claims with a focus on human rights and the environment. He has a particular interest in protecting public services in the context of austerity cuts, such as the NHS and social housing, as well as combating climate change through the courts. Rowan is hoping to expand his work into other areas, such as tackling the privatisation of education. He regularly acts for campaigning/community groups and a number of established NGOs.

What the directories say

Rowan is probably the most efficient solicitor I have dealt with.

Chambers and partners 2024

Legal expertise

Some of his notable cases include:

  • Friends of the Earth v Secretary of State for the Department of Transport: current challenge to the Government’s policy decision to expand Heathrow Airport on climate change and sustainable development grounds.
  • 999 Call for NHS v NHS Commissioning Board and others: live appeal against the Government’s attempt to introduce price competition into the NHS via accountable care organisations.
  • Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants v Secretary of State for the Home Department: strategic human rights challenge to the Home Office’s right to rent scheme, claiming that a central plank of the Government’s hostile environment is incompatible with the right to a home, given its discriminatory impact on grounds of nationality and ethnicity.
  • Buckingham v Corby CCG: successful judicial review of clinical commissioning group’s decision to downgrade an urgent care centre due to breach of promise to consult and duty to involve patients, as well as breach of public sector equality duty.
  • Buckley v Bath and North East Somerset Council: successful test case, which established that a local council is under a duty to carry out an equality impact assessment when granting outline planning permission to demolish a social housing estate.
  • Peters v Haringey Council: live appeal against Haringey council’s decision to sell off almost £2 billion worth of public assets to a 50:50 private company, arguing no power to undertake commercial activities through an LLP and failure to consult.
  • Preston New Road Action Group v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government: statutory review of Government’s overturning of planning refusal for fracking operations based on arguments to do with harm to valued landscape.
  • Miah v Governors of Avenue Primary School: urgent judicial review of school’s decision to convert into an academy owing to errors of law and an unfair process, leading to a grant of interim relief stopping the conversion. 

Rowan joined Leigh Day in March 2016, after training in public law and human rights at Bindmans LPP.  Before his career in law, Rowan studied Global Politics at Lancaster University and worked at various charities in Manchester.

Rowan Smith in the news

What the directories say

He has a very keen sense of strategy and understanding of how litigation can help a client’s wider campaigning aims. He also has an incredible work rate.

Chambers and partners 2024


News Article
Power Station Fumes
Environment Carbon emissions Power station

Legal challenge issued over decision to allow power station in Teesside

An application for judicial review has been filed to challenge the development of a gas power station with carbon capture technology on Teesside. It is claimed that the power station will hinder rather than help delivering the Government’s net zero commitment, even though it is being referred to as “Net Zero” Teesside by the developers and the Secretary of State.

News Article
Trees from above
Environment Carbon emissions Power station

Biofuelwatch issues legal challenge to decision to allow carbon capture installation at Drax power plant

Biofuelwatch UK has issued a High Court legal challenge to the decision to grant Drax Power Limited consent to install carbon capture technology at the Yorkshire biomass power plant.

News Article
Chris Packham
Environment Chris Packham Judicial review

Chris Packham granted permission for judicial review of Government decision to abandon green policies

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham CBE has been granted permission to challenge the Government in the High Court over its decision to abandon statutory green policies in its carbon budget delivery plans to keep the UK on target for net zero.