Legal 500 awarded Jack the prestigious honour as “Legal 500 UK Regional Junior Barrister of the year” 2018. Its Judges noted:
“2017 was Smyth’s tenth year of call and he continues to punch above his weight across a number of practice areas. He frequently acts for prominent clients such as Secretaries of State and makes frequent successful appearances in the higher courts”
Jack was also rated as a Top Tier grade 1 barrister in Planning law in the Midlands in 2017.
Jack has a strong practice across the piste in Planning and Environmental law with a particular interest in High Court challenges and enforcement.
Jack has been appointed by the Attorney General as Junior Counsel to the Crown for the Midlands (formerly known as the Treasury Solicitors’ Panel). As a result, he frequently finds himself in the High Court defending the decisions of Planning Inspectors.
Jack has been appointed as a Drainage Member of the Lands Tribunal (Wales). He is the youngest appointee to the tribunal. In that role, he adjudicates on disputes which revolve around boundaries, the causes of flooding and the best solution to be found to mitigate harm. In that guise, he is experienced with scrutinising competing expert evidence in an area of the law which is both technical and fact-specific.
Jack is experienced with dealing with residential development appeals for appellants, local authorities and residents’ groups and frequently appears at Public Inquiries and Informal Hearings. Jack has experience of a range of issues relating to residential applications including 5 year supply, viability, Green Belt, heritage and landscape.
Jack is considered to be one of the go-to barristers for enforcement matters, with a particular expertise in injunctive proceedings. He is experienced in advising on paper, appearing at inquiries and in the Court system, including Criminal proceedings. Cases include Enforcement prosecutions, Temporary Stop Notices, Injunctions (Gypsies and Travellers), CLEUDs, Tree Preservation Orders, Environmental issues pursuant to EPA including noise and odour abatement notices, Statutory nuisance, POCA, Committals for breaches of court orders and Breach of Condition notices.
He commonly obtains injunctive relief in respect of unauthorised breaches of planning control. This is done on an emergency basis for anticipated breaches and also to compel compliance with enforcement notices and conditions attached to planning permissions. He regularly finds himself in the High Court for injunctions and is used to advising at short notice and undertaking emergency injunctions. Recently, Jack completed a long-running injunction in respect of the illegal tipping of waste on land in the open countryside. During the course of the litigation, a witness was sent to prison for 28 days for perjury following Jack’s cross-examination. In light of the defendant’s failure to obey the injunction, he was committed to prison for 12 months for contempt. This is the longest sentence ever imposed for breach of a planning injunction.
Gypsy Traveller Law
His forte is successfully representing Councils and residents’ groups in resisting gypsy traveller sites. He has represented residents’ groups in two high profile gypsy cases in the Midlands which have both featured on Midlands Today and in the national press: Beausale and Meriden. He often obtains injunctions.
He has extensive experience of advising and providing advocacy in the area of built heritage, in particular, the impact of new development upon Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings. Recent cases include a 2-week inquiry against a Silk on behalf of a residents’ group resisting the demolition of a large building in a Conservation Area to make way for a large supermarket development (the appeal was dismissed) and successfully representing a local authority at an appeal for residential development within the setting of a listed mill. On the enforcement side, recent cases include advising an architect being investigated for unauthorised works to a Listed Building and a home owner facing a joint prosecution by Historic England and the local authority for the gutting of Listed Building and the excavation of an Ancient Scheduled Monument.
He frequently advises appellants and local authorities in respect of statutory nuisance. He is experienced with interrogating technical expert evidence in respect of noise and odour. Recent successes include prosecuting a restaurant in Leicester for failing to obey an abatement notice for odour and resisting an appeal made by a Working Men’s Club in Cannock in respect of a noise abatement notice.
High Court Work
Jack is adept at advising potential Claimants and Defendants on a wide range of High Court challenges including Judicial Reviews and statutory challenges (such as s288 and 289 claims). He has a reputation for turning work around at short notice and providing hard-headed, commercial advice to clients.
“Very adept and knowledgeable.”
Legal 500 2019
“A good advocate who is very good in injunctions and injunction breach work. He is becoming a go-to barrister for regulatory enforcement by local authorities.” “He is excellent and provides timely advice. He responds very quickly on matters even before I’ve formally instructed him.”
Chambers UK 2018
Rated as top tier I in the Midlands: “A junior with a niche interest in statutory nuisance law”
Legal 500 2017
“His planning expertise is second to none, especially for someone so junior. He’s a confident advocate, clients are always happy, and I can’t fault him.” “He has clarity of thought, engages well, is really interested in the case and makes it easier as a result of his good insight into matters. He is also incredibly quick.”
Chambers UK 2017
R (oao Manor Oaks Homes Ltd) v East Cambridgeshire DC  EWHC 2039 (Admin)
Jack represented the Council resisting a JR against the Witchford Neighbourhood Plan ("NP") brought by a housing developer. The claim revolved around the allegation that the NP did not meet the basic conditions and the Council was wrong to treat it as making allocations when the Examiner had removed references to this term and replaced them with "housing proposal sites". At the renewal hearing, Lang J refused permission on all grounds and awarded the Council's costs in full.
Canterbury City Council v Persons Unknown  EWHC 2122 (QB)
Jack acted for the local authority in obtaining an injunction to protect 35 sites. It was the first case on the deployment of these injunctions in the wake of the Court of Appeal's judgment in Bromley LBC. He advised the Council, assisted officers in crafting a targeted restraint which was "Bromley-compliant" and attending the hearing before Thornton J.
R (oao Coventry Gliding Club) v Harborough DC  EWHC 3059
A claim for judicial review against a local authority’s decision to grant an application for prior approval for a barn conversion under the new Class Q permitted development. The case revolved around whether the site notice was “near” to the land and the quality of the officer’s report.
London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown and London Gypsy Travellers  EWCA Civ 12
This has become a “test case” for the use of borough-wide injunctions by local authorities to protect public open spaces from Gypsy Traveller incursions. 34 such injunctions had been granted by the High Court. In Bromley’s case the court refused to grant the injunction but, unusually, gave permission for the matter to be finally determined by the Court of Appeal. A number of organisations, including the pressure group Liberty, appeared as Interveners. At the final hearing, the Court of Appeal set out sweeping guidance on the deployment of such injunctions and what conditions must be met before they are granted in future.
Gladman Development Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Sedgemoor DC  EWHC 128 (Admin)
The High Court found that the Inspector’s decision to dismiss an appeal for residential development was unlawful on the basis that he had refused to make a finding as to whether the Council could demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply.
Banghard v Bedford Borough Council  EWHC 2391 (Admin):
It provides guidance on how local planning authorities should exercise their discretion to decline to determine a planning applications pursuant to s.70C of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Daventry District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC (Admin) 1555
He successfully represented the Secretary of State against a section 288 claim. The case turned on the lawfulness of the Inspector’s decision which followed a written representations procedure where the parties had failed to tell the Inspector that the LPA’s Local Plan had been adopted. The Judge, whilst finding that the Inspector had reached his decision on an erroneously unlawful basis, exercised his discretion not to quash the planning permission on the basis that the claimant LPA had been incompetent and contributed to the error by failing to inform the Inspector of the important change.
R (oao Headcorn Parish Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 1158
He successfully represented the Secretary of State against a claim for permission to pursue a judicial review. The case turned on the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s screening opinion. In particular, the manner in which the screening opinion addressed the effects of the proposed residential development on the highway and a SSSI.
Whitby v Secretaries of State for Transport and Communities and Local Government and Network Rail Infrastructure Limited  EWCA Civ 444
He successfully represented the Secretaries of State in the Court of Appeal [led by Richard Kimblin QC]. This is the first reported case on the proper meaning and interpretation of paragraphs 132 and 133 of the (original) NPPF in respect of justifying harm to heritage assets.
Malvern Hills District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Jones  EWHC 2244
He successfully represented the District Council in its section 288 appeal to quash an Inspector’s decision. The appeal centred around the proper interpretation to policies of an out of date Local Plan.
Crane v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Harborough District Council  EWHC 425
He successfully represented the District Council upon the claimant’s section 288 appeal to quash the Secretary of State’s decision to afford “very substantial negative weight” to an identified breach of a Neighbourhood Plan. This was one of the first challenges to the Secretary of State’s flagship localism policy.
Hampton Bishop Parish Council v Herefordshire Council  EWCA Civ 878
He was led by a Silk in the High Court and later the Court of Appeal, the claim to quash the grant of planning permission was successfully resisted. The case provides useful guidance on the extent to which off-site benefits can reasonably be regarded as material considerations to which the CIL regulations apply. It is a case quoted approvingly by the Planning Encyclopaedia.
Gilbert v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Harborough District Council  EWHC 1952
He successfully represented the District Council in the High Court and Court of Appeal upon the claimant’s judicial review to quash the Secretary of State’s screening decision and the Council’s grant of planning permission. The case revolved around the proper interpretation of the EIA regulations and whether the noise arising from vehicles using the former World War II airfield at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire was likely to have significant environmental effects.
Greaves v Boston Borough Council  EWHC 2237
He successfully represented a local authority in resisting an application to quash a grant of planning permission for a single wind turbine. The case turned on the lawfulness of a noise condition. Following an appeal to the Court of Appeal, the claim was dismissed.
Bedford Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Mrs K Brown QBD (Admin) 25 March 2014 (Lawtel)
He successfully represented the Council in its section 288 challenge and successfully persuaded the High Court to quash an Inspector’s decision in a gypsy case on the grounds that the Inspector had made an error of law by rejecting the Council’s Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Assessment.
Deputy District Judge
Legal 500 UK “Regional Junior Barrister of the year”, 2018
Rated as a Top Tier grade 1 barrister in Planning law in the Midlands, 2017
The Jules Thorn Scholarship by Middle Temple, 2006
Degree in Politics from the Durham University, First Class Honours
Graduate Diploma of Law, with Distinction - LLB
Articles and Publications
Local Government Lawyer: ’Injunctions: a no-brainer? The quickest, easiest, cheapest and most effective way to enforce compliance’
How to Prosecute a Breach of an Enforcement Notice: A Practical Guide
Listed Building Prosecutions: A Practical Guide