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Courtney Smith, Duncan Lewis

Courtney Smith

Solicitor

Contact Information

Profile / Experience

I am a Solicitor in the Actions Against Public Authorities Department. I joined the firm in 2015 and specialise in claims against public authorities and inquests.

As a member of the Police Action Lawyers Group, my aim is to hold public authorities to account when they abuse their powers, fail to observe their professional obligations, or otherwise act unlawfully.

I have a wide variety of experience in handling cases of misconduct, assault and battery, false imprisonment, misfeasance, malicious prosecution, negligence, and harassment. I also advise clients in relation to the mishandling of personal information amount to a breach of Data Protection legislation, discrimination, and breaches of human rights legislation. I assist in making complaints and bringing civil claims against the police, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, Local Authorities and various other government departments and public bodies.

I am a member of INQUEST, a national group of lawyers who provide and legal representation for bereaved families. When a family member dies and an inquest is opened to investigate that death, I represent the family's interests throughout the proceedings, providing advice and support through what are traumatic and confusing times for the family. I assist families in inquests regarding deaths in custody, hospital or other medical settings and in the wider community.

I also have considerable experience in criminal defence matters. My previous criminal practice allowed me to represent those who the State had charged with a criminal offence and to provide robust defence from the initial police interview, throughout the investigation, to the conclusion of the case at either the Magistrates Court or Crown Court, including advice on appeal against conviction and/or sentence.

I also have experience in representing individuals in public law matters where my clients included those requiring representation for a range of judicial reviews, asylum claims and appeals in the First-tier and Upper Tribunals.

I often work alongside my colleagues in the criminal defence, public law, personal injury and clinical negligence departments where a client’s matter merges into the claims against public authorities and inquests field.

I assist a wide variety of clients, many of whom are vulnerable and have experience in dealing with both legally aided and privately funded clients.

Education

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice (Commendation) – BBP University Law School, London - 2015
  • LLB Law (First Class Honours) - The University of Sunderland - 2014
  • Awarded the University of Sunderland Professional Award – 2014
  • Honour Roll Student, the University of Sunderland - 2013-2014

Career

  • Admitted as a Solicitor - January 2019
  • Duncan Lewis Solicitors - 2015 - present
  • Sunderland University Law Clinic - 2013 - 2014

Testimonials

  • "I found you to be very helpful, approachable, you explained things to me clearly in a manner I understood. You organised the barrister effectively and I found him to be a very experienced but also very warm person. Documents were sent to me in a timely fashion and I felt kept up to date at every step of the way. If anyone ever required an inquest solicitor I would be very happy to recommend your firm." - Client, 2021

Notable Cases

High Court
  • R v Dzuga and others - A high profile case of human trafficking spanning a number of years which received notable media attention. This case involved two co-defendants and eight complainants claiming to have been trafficking into the UK and forced to work and live in squalid conditions over a period of 7 years. The client was eventually convicted of only 1 out of 4 counts of human trafficking and forced labour of which they were charged.

  • R v Burges and others - This case involved a number of defendants who were city businessmen charged with conspiracy to defraud following the establishment of a boiler room in central London to allegedly sell scam investments in art and diamonds to unwitting members of the public and targeting vulnerable people to make sales. The result of the five week trial which took place in the Central Criminal Court was that the defendant represented by Duncan Lewis was found not guilty of the charges.

Civil Court
  • DS v Secretary of State for the Home Department – Represented the claimant in a claim for damages for false imprisonment by the Home Office. The client was falsely imprisoned in immigration detention for over 400 days, despite strong evidence available to suggest they were a victim of torture and not suitable for detention. Claim settled and damages of £45,000 secured on behalf of the client.

  • NG v Secretary of State for the Home Department - Represented the claimant in a claim for damages for false imprisonment by the Home Office. The client was falsely imprisoned for a number of months when the Home Office knowingly failed to ensure their release from immigration detention following a successful First-tier Tribunal appeal against a deportation order. Claim settled and damages of £10,000 secured on behalf of the client.

  • TN v Secretary of State for the Home Department – Represented the claimant in a claim for damages for false imprisonment by the Home Office. The client was falsely imprisoned when the Home Office unlawfully placed a curfew upon them, alongside other monitoring and tagging conditions. It was determined that whilst the Home Office could lawfully tag and monitor those with pending asylum claims, who are released from immigration detention, there was no power to impose a curfew. Claim settled and damages of £9,000 secured on behalf of the client.

  • Inquest Touching Upon the Death of JE - Represented the interests of the family in an inquest touching upon the death of their son, who died by suicide following being released from police custody and following an inadequate risk assessment, which took place without an approved mental health professional present. The inquest was given Article 2 status to widen the scope of the enquiry, following submissions made on behalf of the family. HM Coroner issued a nationwide prevention of future deaths report to address those failings.

  • Inquest Touching Upon the Death of BG - Represented the interests of the family in an inquest touching upon the death of their son, who died by suicide following a failure by the local NHS Trust’s Crisis Team to accept a referral to the service and urgently assess the deceased. The inquest was given Article 2 status, following submissions made on behalf of the family which acted to widen the scope of the enquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the death. HM Coroner noted a missed opportunity to assess the deceased at the earliest opportunity, which could reasonably have prevented their death.

  • Inquest Touching Upon the Death of HL – Represented the interests of the family in an inquest touching upon the death of their son, who died by drowning in a dock at a local tourist attraction. Issues related to the method of reporting the death to the police as well as the overall emergency response. Interested parties to the inquest were Chatham Historical Dockyard Trust, Kent Police Force, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the South East Coast Ambulance Service. The inquest process encouraged the making of changes to Chatham Historical Dockyard’s policy relating to emergency reporting and their procedures in relation to emergency response and rescue.

  • AG v London Borough of Camden - Judicial review in the High Court challenging the interpretation of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010, specifically reg. 40(7)(ii) and whether ‘capable to be carried on lawfully and permanently’ means that a building is capable physically to be used for its intended purpose or not.

Membership & Accreditations

  • Member of INQUEST
  • Member of the Police Action Lawyers Group
  • Centre for Women's Justice, Reference Panel Member
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