New Law Journal readers' vote

The Legal Personality of the Year award honours an individual (not necessarily with a background or qualification in the law) who has made an outstanding contribution in the legal sphere in the past year.
 
A shortlist of five candidates has been drawn up by the New Law Journal editorial team using a combination of nominations submitted by the journal's readership and their own assessment of the key events that have featured in their news coverage over the past 12 months.

Now you - members of the legal profession - will have the final say by voting for your preferred candidate. A brief pen picture of each is set out on the next three pages. Once you have read these, please make your selection.

You will need to cast your vote by 17:00 on Monday 18 February and the winner will be announced at the LexisNexis Legal Awards on Wednesday 13 March.

 
Cori Crider
Cori Crider is a lawyer who has dedicated her career to defending people at the sharp end of the national security state. From 2006 to 2018, she worked for Reprieve, directing their work countering human rights abuses committed during the “War on Terror”.

In 2018 Cori achieved a major breakthrough in establishing accountability for the UK’s role in human rights abuses in the post 9/11 era. Following a victory in the Supreme Court, Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar secured an apology from the Prime Minister for their unlawful rendition to Libya in March 2004. In a letter read out in the Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May stated that the UK "should have done more to reduce the risk" of the pair being mistreated, adding: "We accept this was a failing on our part. On behalf of Her Majesty's government, I apologise unreservedly."

The historic settlement marks the first time that ministers have apologised for a specific act involving British security agencies. The apology was the culmination of a six and a half year legal battle, litigated by Cori, with co-counsel from Leigh Day.

“Cori’s work undoubtedly contributed to our clients receiving the fulsome public apology they had sought from the outset. It is my view that she has made an outstanding contribution to the legal sphere in the past year for her work in this regard.” Sapna Malik, Leigh Day

“Cori was absolutely central to the success of the claim. She displayed every attribute of a great human rights lawyer.” Richard Hermer QC

Jacqueline McGuigan
Jacqueline McGuigan is a specialist employment lawyer who runs her own niche firm, TMP Solicitors LLP.
 
In 2011 Mr Gary Smith instructed Jacqueline to bring an employment tribunal claim against Pimlico Plumbers Ltd for compensation arising out of his dismissal from employment.  Pimlico Plumbers disputed the claim on the basis that Mr Smith was an independent contractor and did not have a legal right to bring a claim. The Employment Tribunal found in favour of Mr Smith, a decision that was subsequently affirmed by both the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

Ultimately, on 13 June 2018 the Supreme Court delivered its decision that Mr Smith was a worker and entitled to employment rights.  Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which funded the case throughout the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court process stated: 'This is one of the biggest decisions ever made by the courts on workers’ rights. Thousands of workers like Gary Smith could now find themselves with the added security of benefits like sick pay and holiday pay.'.

Michael Mylonas QC
Michael Mylonas is head of the Court of Protection team at Serjeants’ Inn and was involved in a number of high profile cases during 2018, most notably leading the team representing Alder Hey Children's Hospital during the Alfie Evans case.

This tragic and highly sensitive case, which involved the disagreement between Alfie’s parents and his medical team regarding the decision to withdraw life support from an infant with a severe neurodegenerative disorder, involved more than eight contested High Court hearings over a two-month period as well as four unsuccessful appeals by the parents to the Court of Appeal and two applications each to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. However, ultimately the High Court’s ruling that continuing life-support treatment would not be in Alfie’s best interests was upheld.

In August Michael secured a ground-breaking decision in Y v A Healthcare NHS Trust when the Court of Protection allowed the emergency extraction of sperm for fertility treatment from a man who had suffered a catastrophic brain injury. There was no written consent for the extraction and this result was achieved through an innovative application of the Mental Capacity Act, which allowed a named individual to sign a consent form for fertility treatment on his behalf.

In December Michael received judgment from the Court of Appeal in ARB v IVF Hammersmith where a father is challenging the public policy bar to recovery of damages for wrongful birth of a healthy child.  The case is being appealed to the Supreme Court.

Michael advised in JMA where the Court of Protection decided it was in JMA’s best interests to vary her will and award gifts totalling £7m.

Michael is also acting on a pro bono basis in the case of a transgender man who, having given birth, is seeking to be identified as the child's "father" or "parent" on the birth certificate.

Louise Whitfield
Louise Whitfield is a partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn. In June The Supreme Court ruled in favour of her clients, the heterosexual couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, in their challenge against legislation which prevents opposite-sex couples from entering into a civil partnership.

This represented the culmination of three and a half year’s work on behalf of her clients. With the Court ruling unanimously that the current situation breached the Human Rights Act, the Government subsequently agreed to change the law.

LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called the ruling a "victory for love and equality", stating “It was never fair that same-sex couples had two options, civil partnerships and civil marriages, whereas opposite-sex partners had only one option, marriage".

Harriet Wistrich
Harriet Wistrich is a solicitor of twenty years’ experience working with the civil liberties firm, Birnberg Peirce and Partners. In 2016 she founded The Centre for Women’s Justice, a multi-partner organization aimed at bringing cases holding the state to account in relation to violence against women and girls.

In March 2009, John Worboys (known as the Black Cab Rapist) was convicted of 19 serious sexual offences and given an indeterminate sentence for public protection. In December 2017, the Parole Board determined that incarceration was no longer necessary and directed his release after just eight years.

Harriet responded to the decision to release Worboys by launching judicial review proceedings. She wanted the Board to explain its decision to free the man who police believe may have raped more than 100 women.
 
The Court upheld this challenge and quashed the direction to release him on the basis that the Parole Board should have undertaken further inquiry into the circumstances of his offending and, in particular, the extent to which the limited way in which he has described his offending may undermine his overall credibility and reliability. Worboys’ case was remitted to the Parole Board for fresh determination and In November 2018, it was announced that Worboys would remain in prison.

In February she also represented two of Worboys’ victims in a successful action against the police in the Supreme Court after they challenged compensation awarded to victims for their failure to act earlier.

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