SIMON BELL

Simon is a barrister with specialisms in Public, Local Government, Election, Planning and Environmental law and General Civil Litigation. He appears on behalf of Knights’ clients in all levels of Court and Tribunal in England and Wales, with elements of his specialist areas covering the firm’s wider practice.

Prior to joining the team, Simon worked as a Senior Advisory Lawyer for the Department for Transport Legal Advisers' Rail teams, where he provided advice on public, commercial, contract, pensions, European, State aid and procurement matters to policy officials and ministers in the department relating to infrastructure and operation of commuter services into, and within, London (including the operation of, and services through, the Channel Tunnel).

Prior to his role in the Department for Transport, Simon worked as a Senior Litigation Lawyer in the Government Legal Department's General Public Law and Planning Team, representing government departments and bodies in high-profile and complex litigation matters. Simon also provided advice and assistance outside of litigation in respect of legal risk during policy development particularly to DEFRA, the Department for Transport and the Department for Education as well as providing cross-government advice and assistance in respect of the Public Sector Equality Duty. Simon also acted as a registered pupil supervisor and training principal whilst working for the Government Legal Department.

Before he joined the Government Legal Department, Simon worked as a Criminal Practitioner at the self-employed Bar, specialising in crime with an emphasis on prosecution. Simon was instructed in the cases to appear for the Crown (acting for the CPS, DWP and HMRC), RSPCA and the Probation Service. in 2007 Simon joined the CPS on secondment as a Senior Crown Prosecutor before moving to the Criminal Appeals Office in 2007 where he acted as a Lawyer to the Court of Appeal and the Registrar, providing legal advice and assistance to Judges in respect of appeals against conviction and/or sentence.

Simon attended the University of Kent at Canterbury and then the Inns of Court School of Law. He was called to Bar in 2003.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

Public and Administrative Law

Advising on, and acting in, challenges to decisions made by Government Departments, Local Authorities and other administrative bodies. Drafting pre-action correspondence and claims for judicial review (or other statutory appeals).

Advising on requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Acting in complaints to the Information Commissioner as well as any appeals to the Tribunal.

Planning & Environmental Law

Advice and assistance in respect of Compulsory Purchase Orders, Development Consent Orders and applications for discretionary purchase. Advice and assistance in respect of planning applications (including assisting with drafting objections to planning applications), enforcement proceedings, appearing in planning inquiries,
statutory appeals and claims for judicial review.

Advice and assistance for developers and other consultees in respect of development and proposals included in Local Plans.

Advising and assisting clients involved in investigations and proceedings instigated by the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

Local Government Law

Advising and acting for Councillors involved in Code of Conduct complaints, advising on local authority powers and procedures adopted under Local Authority Constitutions. 


Providing Parish Councillors with advice, assistance and training in respect of planning law and the wider powers/responsibilities of a Parish Council.

Election Law

Advising on, and acting in, proceedings involving complaints to the Electoral Commission and any investigations undertaken by the Commission. Advice and assistance in respect of campaign funding. Advice and assistance in respect of Election Petitions.

General Civil Litigation


Advising on, and acting in, proceedings in the County Court and Tribunals concerning contractual disputes, claims for trespass and nuisance,
boundary disputes and applications for injunctive relief.

NOTABLE CASES

Notable cases in which Simon has been instructed include:

Public & Administrative Law

R (oao Peter Jolly Senior) v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2020). Instructed to advise on and draft proposed amendments to the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill 2019 (all of which were tabled in the House of Lords) and subsequently instructed to act in a judicial review against the Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019. Simon was successful in obtaining permission from the High Court to bring the claim, which subsequently settled.

Tahir Alam v Secretary of State for Education (2017/2018). Successfully represented the Secretary of State in the First-tier and Upper Tribunal in relation to the first appeal against a barring decision of a school governor made by the Secretary of State under s.128 of the Education and Skills Act 2008.

R (oao Steinfeld and Keidan) v Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin). Represented the Secretary of State in judicial review proceedings by which the claimants challenged whether opposite sex couples should be allowed to enter into a civil partnership under s.1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.


Reynolds v Secretary of State for Transport [2016] UKUT 0159 (AAC). Acted for the Secretary of State in this appeal to the Upper Tribunal against a decision by the Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands as to the loss of the professional competence of a Transport Manager. The Secretary of State was successful in part, in that the finding of a loss of professional competence was substituted for a finding of a loss of good repute. The Secretary of State agreed from the outset that the finding of a loss of professional competence should not be upheld by the Tribunal.

R (oao Evans and anor) v Attorney General [2015] UKSC 21 (the “Prince of Wales Correspondence” case). Acted for the Attorney General in the Supreme Court proceedings, by which the Attorney appealed against the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash the certificate he issued under s.53(2) of FOIA and s.18(6) of the EIR 2005 (the “ministerial veto”) to prevent the disclosure of correspondence passing between the Prince of Wales and Government Departments under FOIA and/or the EIR.

Also acted for the Secretary of State for Transport in respect of the exercise of the ministerial veto issued regarding the release of reports relating to HS2.

R (oao HS2 Action Alliance Limited et Ors) v Secretary of State for Transport et Ors [2014] UKSC 3. Successfully acted for the Secretary of State in judicial review proceedings and subsequent appellate proceedings relating to the decision to proceed with the development of HS2.

R (oao of Sanders and anor) v Airports Commission and Secretary of State for Transport [2013] EWHC 3752 (Admin). Successfully represented the Airports Commission in judicial review proceedings by which the claimants challenged the sift criteria adopted by the Commission for assessing proposals for increasing the capacity of UK Airports. Subsequently instructed to assist the Department for Transport during the process that led to the identification of Heathrow Airport as the preferred airport for expansion

Groupe Eurotunnel S.A v Competition Commission and Société Coopérative de Production Sea France S.A. v Competition Commission [2013] CAT 30 (“Eurotunnel 1”). Acted for the Competition Commission (now the Competition and Markets Authority) in judicial review proceedings in the Competition Appeal Tribunal by which Eurotunnel challenged a decision, under s.35 of the Enterprise Act 2002, that a relevant merger situation had been created and resulted (or expected to result) in a substantial lessening of competition within the Dover-Calais market for the supply of passenger and freight transport services.

R (oao Arogundade) v Secretary of State for Buisness, Innovation and Skills [2013] EWCA Civ 823. Successfully acted for Secretary of State against the
appellant’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to uphold the Secretary of State’s decision that the appellant did not meet the criteria for financial
assistance from the Student Loans Company due to her immigration status.

R (oao Feeney) v Secretary of State for Transport et Ors [2013] EWHC 1238. Successfully acted for the Secretary of State in a challenge to the Chiltern Railway (Bicester to Oxford) Improvements Order 2013, by which the claimant contended that the Secretary of State had not carried out an appropriate
assessment under the Habitats Directive and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations.

Planning & Environmental Law

Acting for one of the principal objectors during the Inquiry into the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (Calverley Square) Compulsory Purchase Order 2018 (March
-2019).

Acting for two landowners affected by the proposed compulsory acquisition powers contained within the DCO application made by Cory Riverside Energy for the Riverside Energy Plant Order 2020.

R (oao Stryak) v London Borough of Hounslow [2016] EWHC 1897 (Admin). Acted for the Education Funding Agency in this judicial review against a decision by the local authority to grant planning permission for a free school on Metropolitan Open Land.

R (oao Associated British Ports) v Secretary of State for Transport and Able Humber Ports. Instructed to act in a Judicial review challenge to the Able Marine Energy park Development Consent Order 2014 that was subsequently withdrawn by the Claimants.

Simon provided advice on potential challenges to the A556 (Knutsford to Bowdon Improvement) Development Consent Order 2014 - the first Highways Agency scheme to use the DCO process. No challenges subsequently arose.

Local Government Law

Instructed to act on behalf of the Boston Borough Council Opposition in respect of a proposed claim for judicial review against the merging of the administrative resources and Officers by two Local Authorities.

Election Law

Kevin Painter v Stephen Hirst & Nigel Adams (2019). Acted for the petitioner in an election petition brought in respect of an unorthodox marking to a ballot paper which was used by the returning officer to break a tie between two candidates.  The case was heard by the Divisional Court.

Providing advice and assistance to two campaigning groups into investigations into campaign funding and spending returns submitted to the Electoral Commission.

General Civil Litigation

Hunt v Hutchison (Druce) (2020) successfully acted for the Claimant in a claim for the return of 11 horses seized under s.7C of the Animals Act 1971 and/or held under a lien in respect of an unpaid, oral, livery agreement and/or held on welfare grounds. Upon successfully ensuring the return of the horses (following an application for interim relief that resulted in the grant of a final order), Simon successfully settled a counterclaim for circa £40,000 for the sum of £500.  

OTHER NOTABLE WORK

Judge Over Your Shoulder (“JOYS”). Simon contributed to, and assisted in the editing, of “Judge Over Your Shoulder – a guide to good decision making” in the first update to the guide for 10 years.

TRAINING

Simon is a registered pupil supervisor and was a training principal for the Government Legal Department providing supervision, guidance, and training to newly qualified barristers and solicitors working within the Department.

Simon has also been involved in the development and delivery of training to non-lawyers concerning the judicial review, requests and challenges brought under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations as we as the Duty of Candour disclosure regime.

Simon provides training to prospective candidates in respect of an overview of Election Law

Should you, or your organisation, require bespoke training (or simply an interactive discussion) in respect of any areas of Simon’s practice please do not hesitate to contact us to talk through your needs.

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

Simon is a member of:

The Planning and Environment Bar Association (PEBA)
The Compulsory Purchase Association (CPA)
The Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)
The Agricultural Law Association (ALA)
The Kent Law Society