David Lawson

Call 2000


David is a public lawyer working with all public services, in particular education, health and care services.  He represents individuals, government, charities and companies in relation to individual rights to services and the organisation of service provision.  He has appeared in a number of leading judicial reviews on the powers of public sector bodies. Chambers UK notes that “he achieves remarkable results… gives everything to his cases, and is always approachable and great to work with”.

David is clerked primarily by Tom O’Connor, Samantha Jones, Louis Lockwood and Shaun Coleman.

“He thinks through all angles.”
The Legal 500

David Lawson appears in leading judicial review on fitness to practise and universities.
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experience & expertise

David has appeared in numerous reported cases considering some of the key concepts in his areas of practice. He also has a busy practice of trials and hearings in a wide range of courts and tribunals ranging from short applications to multi-day cases. He is regularly involved in advising local government, schools, care homes and companies about the commissioning, regulation and organisation of provision. David is instructed by the major firms and public bodies in his field and Chambers UK and the Legal 500 have consistently recognised him as a leading junior.

David has appeared in many key education law cases at all levels. SEN and disability appeals include the integration of education, health and care in EHC plans and reasonable adjustments in public exams. Higher education experience includes the meaning of ‘academic judgment’ and disciplinary and judicial review challenges for students removed from university courses on disciplinary grounds including fitness to practice. Experience of the organisation of education includes cases on the meaning of the word ‘school’ and the challenge by judicial review to the Charity Commission’s tests for independent schools to retain charitable status.

David has been in many cases considering health service provision including blood transfusions, anaesthetic, birth and end of life issues. He has advised on the right to treatment, which organisation is responsible to pay for treatment and the regulation of providers.

He frequently appears in the Court of Protection or the High Court on disputes relating to capacity and care for adults, often with significant needs. This includes deprivation of liberty and capacity to make decisions on sexual relations and marriage.

David has experience of a wide range of areas related to legal practice. He has recently spent several years as a part-time Ombudsman for the Financial Ombudsman Service. He has undertaken trial observation in Lesotho (environmental damage) and Turkey (language rights). He is a past editor of the Education Law Monitor and talks and writes extensively on his areas of practice.

Cases and work of note

Within the education sector David is an established leading practitioner and has appeared over 20 reported cases including cases with significant wider implications and. The Independent Schools Council v The Charity Commission for England & Wales [2012] 2 WLR 100 decided the meaning of the phrase ‘public benefit’ for charitable independent schools. David was also in the first case to consider the meaning of the word ‘school’, TB v Essex County Council [2014] ELR 46. Other reported cases include post 16 provision, academy conversion, the proper approach to expert evidence, the process of judicial review in the Upper Tribunal, transport duties, the meaning of “waking day” and school admission and exclusion.


David is consistently recommended by the legal directories as a leading junior. He is ranked in the Chambers UK Bar Guide for both Education and Local Government.

Clients cited by Chambers and Partners state that he is very good with clients, he is very thorough, and has a great success rate”

Other recent directory editorial has included the following:


  • Medical Treatment Decisions and the Law – contributor
  • Education Law Monitor – past editor
  • Local Government Lawyer, Education Law Journal and Health Service Journal – contributor


Ultimately law is about managing risk. Sometimes you have to leave key interests at risk but if you don’t have to it’s best not to.  It’s usually sensible to narrow down what’s at stake.

“The best answers come from listening to the clients.”

Like many colleagues I act for claimants and defendants. It brings valuable insights – the most important of them – organisations are trying to do the right thing and never forget how much individuals have at stake.  More than anything else acting for all parties to disputes is a constant barrier to cynicism and reminder of what works in the system.

The best ideas come from the clients. Sometimes clients – and even the lawyers – look to the lawyers for the answers.  The best answers come from listening to the clients and then trying to work out how the answer they can see fits into the law or can be based in the facts the court may find.

Further Information

For further details of David’s practice please click on the links to the left or contact a member of the clerking or client service team.

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