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Herbert Smith Freehills' (HSF) administrative and public law team were awarded the Pro Bono Award at the LexisNexis Awards 2019 yesterday evening – 13 March 2019.

The team, which is externally ranked in the top tier in the legal directories, have been recognised for their work on high-profile strategic interventions in the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for charity clients – something they have done for over a decade.

In the last 12 months the team, led by Partner Andrew Lidbetter, acted for:

  • Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in the charity's successful intervention in a Supreme Court case, Siobhan McLaughlin for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland), which established that limiting the receipt of a bereaved parent's allowance to married parents is incompatible with human rights legislation.
  • The Centre for Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (the AIRE Centre) in an intervention concerning free movement rights of family members of EEA nationals in the Supreme Court and which went to a hearing in the CJEU in December 2018.  SM Algeria addresses when a child who is not a blood relation can be regarded as a direct descendent.
  • The AIRE Centre intervening in the Supreme Court proceedings, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Gubeladze, concerning entitlement to state pension credit which was heard by the Supreme Court in March 2019.
  • The AIRE Centre in its intervention in the Administrative Court proceedings, MN v Secretary of State for the Home Department concerning the important issue of the standard of proof to be applied by the Secretary of State in decision-making on human trafficking cases.

Other NGOs that the team support include the Public Law Project, Liberty and JUSTICE.

The LexisNexis Pro Bono Award celebrates excellence and innovation across the legal sector and recognises firms whose innovative programmes and exceptional commitment have increased access to justice and made a marked difference to the communities in which they operate.

Accepting the award on behalf of the firm, Andrew Lidbetter, said: "We are extremely pleased to have taken home this prestigious award. Our firm has been privileged to work with NGOs that do very important work on a number of high-profile cases in the Administrative Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for over a decade now and we are delighted to be able to utilise the same public law skillset that we deploy for our commercial clients in our pro bono work for NGOs."

The LexisNexis Legal Awards were launched in 2013 and have attracted an increasing number of high calibre entrants each year. The prestigious awards are judged by a panel of leading figures in the legal world and the 2019 panel included the Chair of the Bar, Andrew Walker QC, and the President of the Law Society, Christina Blacklaws.