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Rowan Smith


Rowan Smith is a solicitor in the human rights department.

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.

He's very good at spotting the key points for clients early on and thinking outside the box.

Chambers and partners 2021

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.


News Article
Stonehenge With A303
Stonehenge Planning planning laws

High Court hearing in judicial review claim against Stonehenge World Heritage Site road decision

A three-day High Court hearing will begin on Wednesday 23 June, 2021 in the legal challenge to the decision to allow a new A303 dual carriageway and tunnel within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

News Article
High Court
Human rights

Severely disabled woman wins her claim that council care charges are discriminatory

A 24-year-old Down syndrome woman has won her claim that Norfolk County Council’s decision to increase her care charges is discriminatory.

News Article
Road into the sunset

Transport Action Network challenges refusal to review national transport strategy

A transport environment campaign group has issued a legal challenge to the unchanged policy support for the expansion of England’s roads network.


He is an excellent claimant litigator.

Chambers and partners 2021