Tom Battarbee specialises in Prison Law and Mental Health Tribunal representation.
He joined Swain and Co in June 2009 as a trainee Solicitor and qualified as a Solicitor in June 2011. Prior to working at Swain & Co he did further study into Human Rights and Equality Law and also worked at his local CABx.
In July 2012, Tom achieved membership to the Law Society’s Panel for Mental Health having satisfied them that he has high levels of knowledge, skill, expertise and practice in the field of Mental Health Law.
Tom’s particular interests are in Prison Law, Mental Health and Human Rights and Equality Law.
He has an impressive academic background including a BA in Law from Oxford, LLM Comparative Human Rights and the International Protection of Human Rights Law – UCL and an MSt – Masters in Legal Research from Oxford.
His interests include running, football, spending time with his wife, friends and family and living out his Christian faith.
A selection of cases Tom has handled:
Successful appeal of IPP sentence
The Court of Appeal accepted that while there may have been a significant risk of T committing further offences, there was not sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the commission of further offences would pose a significant risk of serious harm being caused, a crucial requirement of an IPP sentence. T’s other offences were for low level non violent and non sexual offences. The section 18 wounding could therefore be seen as being out of character.
T only had one previous specified offence which was an attempted robbery from June 1996. He was convicted of the index offence some 11 years later, a significant gap. The index offence and this previous specified offence were completely unconnected in type.
Furthermore the Judge had not applied sentencing in the manner set out in the case of Lang but had gone straight from the fact of a previous conviction to the finding of dangerousness without looking at the detail of the previous offence.
The Court of Appeal quashed T’s IPP sentence and replaced it with a determinate sentence of 7 years.
This is a fantastic result for T. He has been released on licence and has less than 12 months until his Sentence Expiry Date. Despite being two years over tariff T had struggled to make progress through the prison system and had remained in closed conditions unable to make headway before the Parole Board. This is now behind him as he now out on licence in the community.
Tom challenges procedurally unfair re-categorisation process with Judicial Review
On the basis of unspecified and unsubstantiated security intelligence he found himself recategorised to category B status and transferred out of the prison. This meant that he was unable to complete the offending behaviour work that has been deemed necessary for him to make any progress.
Tom successfully challenged the prison and the Secretary of State for Justice (SSJ) by seeking a judicial review. Our argument was that the recategorisation decision and process was procedurally unfair and therefore unlawful.
The day before the High Court was to hear this case, the SSJ conceded the case, accepting that the decision to upgrade Mr B’s security categorisation was unlawful and should be quashed. They also agreed to transfer Mr B as a matter of urgency to an establishment where he could complete the offending behaviour work that he had commenced at HMP Ranby. Mr B has now successfully completed this work and has a good chance of securing a progressive move at his next parole review.
Tom successfully challenges sentence progression blocking of our client
The SSJ have said that there is outstanding core risk reduction work for him to complete. However, they acknowledge that because of his learning difficulties he is unable to access this work in the usual form, ie by group work. Despite Mr A and ourselves making repeated queries as to what reasonable adjustments were being made to enable Mr A to complete this work, no solutions were forthcoming.
Tom’s argument was that it was patently irrational to say someone has to complete core risk reduction work before they can progress on their sentence and not to provide any means of accessing this work and further that this was a breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.
Just last month the Governor of Mr A’s prison granted him category D status. The prison and SSJ have conceded the argument that there is no further core risk reduction that Mr A can complete in the closed prison estate and that it would be unreasonable to keep blocking Mr A’s progression on this basis. This will enable Mr A to benefit from time in open conditions to work on his resettlement back into community life before he is ultimately released from custody.
Tom challenges responsibility of SSJ and SERCO to get client necessary assessment
There has been much confusion as to what interventions he requires to reduce his risk. There has been repeated mention of further psychological assessments being necessary but none have been forthcoming.
Mr S’s last Parole Board was a non event because he was unable to point to having completed offending behaviour work to reduce his risk.
Tom put it to SERCO (who run the prison) and the Secretary of State for Justice (SSJ) that they were breaching their public law duty to enable indeterminate sentence prisoners to make progress on their sentence.
We argued that it was unreasonable for the prison to claim that a lack of resources meant they were not able to provide the psychological assessments and interventions and for the SSJ to claim that having contracted out the running of this prison to a private contractor they had no responsibility in this matter. As a result of this challenge SERCO has agreed to provide the psychological assessments which Mr S needs to complete so that a clear plan of what psychological interventions he needs to complete to help him to reduce his risk.
Tel: 0151 255 2286
Fax: 015 255 2287
10 Rumford Place