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Rowan Smith

Senior associate solicitor

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

Environment 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
Chris Packham
Chris Packham Environment Human rights

Chris Packham commences legal challenge against UK Government for abandoning green policies

Chris Packham has filed a High Court legal challenge to the Government for abandoning statutory green pledges made in its latest carbon budget to keep the UK on target for net zero.

News Article
Biomass Wood Pellets
Environment Human rights

Environmental charity seeks judicial review of government’s plans to promote the use of biomass fuel in its strategy to cut greenhouse gases

The environmental and rewilding charity The Lifescape Project is seeking a judicial review of the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero’s plans to meet the UK’s obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions in part through its new Biomass Strategy.

News Article
Sussex High Weald
Environmental law Oil

Sussex residents’ court hearing in fight to save Area of Outstanding Natural beauty from oil exploration project

A Sussex residents’ association has a statutory review court hearing on Wednesday 19 July and Thursday 20 July in its bid to save an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty from an oil exploration project.