Matthew Wyard is a public law barrister specialising in the fields of education, health and social care. He joined chambers in 2020, having spent his first few years of practice as an employed barrister in the public law and commercial litigation departments of a well-known specialist public law firm where he was involved in a diverse range of matters in the education, health and social care sectors, as well as the media sector, an area of work that he is keen to develop.
He brings significant experience of court-based and advisory work for claimants and local authorities in education matters, individuals and institutions in Court of Protection disputes as well as the entire range of community care instructions. Unusually, he is one of very few barristers who are expert in both English and Welsh education and social care law and can advise on the proposed changes in 2020 to the Welsh special education needs (SEN) system.
Whilst in-house, Matthew built up significant advocacy, advisory and drafting experience in a variety of disputes and contexts, appearing in the Court of Appeal, High Court (Administrative Court and Family Division), County Court, Court of Protection, Coroners Court, Family Court, the First Tier and Upper Tribunals, Magistrates Court, SENTW, the Employment Tribunal and various specialist education law Tribunals.
Matthew is a member of the Attorney General’s Junior Junior panel and is regularly instructed to prepare Summary Grounds of Resistance in judicial review proceedings on behalf of the Home Office. He has been instructed as junior counsel by the Secretary of State for Justice in a recent disability discrimination claim.
Having spent seven years working within law firms, regularly instructing counsel himself, Matthew understands what instructing solicitors want from their counsel. In particular, adding value by offering a unique perspective on the litigation process. Matthew contributes more to the overall litigation process as, for instance, when settling Grounds for Judicial Review, he typically completes the claim form as well to ensure consistency across the two documents. He is also happy to assist with the preparation of evidence, disclosure exercises and advising on bundle formatting.
Alongside a busy barrister's practice, Matthew is a widely published legal author acting as a contributing editor to Clarke Hall and Morrison on Children and a regular contributor to Lexis PSL, providing updates on the law to the legal profession. He has also been published in The Times Higher Education, the Education Law Monitor and the Solicitors Journal. Matthew is currently writing for the forthcoming, inaugural edition of the new Education Law Handbook.
Other publications produced by Matthew Wyard include: Student wins fitness to practise appeal over comments posted on social media (Ngole v University of Sheffield); Tribunals should avoid involvement in appeals of their own decisions (SG v Denbighshire County Council and MB); Universities don't fear the OIA. It would be better if they did; Are negotiation skills for lawyers underestimated?; Challenging university disciplinary decisions — JR or complaint to OIA? (R (on the application of Zahid) v University of Manchester); Tackling Inequality - under 16s and the education system; Tackling Inequality - higher education; Head teacher’s duty to disclose relationship to safeguard pupils; A Matter of Consent: Sexual assaults on campus; Waiting at the School Gates - Resolving Persistent Truancy; Inflexible Policies; Children and Families Act 2014; and featured in The Guardian's This is oppression: gagging orders used to muzzle teachers.
Matthew is also a prolific author on LinkedIn including recently publishing 'The Court’s approach to the Public Sector Equality Duty, an update and advice for public sector decision makers and claimant lawyers' and 'Do unincorporated associations have capacity to bring judicial review proceedings and statutory challenges?'.
Outside of Chambers, Matthew is non-executive director of a music and media business, Thinkspace Education.
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Matthew Wyard’s public law practice - and specifically his judicial review expertise - focuses on the complementary areas of education, health and community care, alongside having developed a particular interest in the use of public law remedies within family proceedings. Having spent significant time practising in Wales, he is familiar with, and happy to advise upon, the relevant legislation across both jurisdictions.
Within the education sector, Matthew has experience in acting before the Teachers Regulation Authority on behalf of teachers who are accused of wrongdoing. Additionally, he has experience of advising on, drafting and representing clients in a range of education law related judicial review challenges, in particular:
- CP v Surrey County Council – Represented the claimant in an urgent out of hours injunction application and at a substantive application in the Administrative Court concerning the right of accommodation pursuant to section 20 of the Children Act 1989. He also drafted the Grounds of Judicial Review;
- JPF v Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education – Drafted Grounds of Judicial Review regarding the legality of the higher education sector ombudsman’s decision to dismiss the Claimant’s complaint;
- DB v Kings College London – challenge to a university’s termination of a medical student;
- DB v London Borough of Richmond upon Thames – challenge pursuant to section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 for failing to maintain an Education, Health and Care Plan;
- MG v Hertfordshire County Council – challenge to the legality of the local authority refusing to finalise an Education, Health and Care Plan in accordance with an order of the First Tier Tribunal;
- MG v CT Independent Review Panel – judicial review challenge to an IRP’s decision to uphold a permanent exclusion decision;
- AM v Cardiff City Council – judicial review against the legality of a local authority’s statutory assessment process; and
- G v Newport City Council – challenge to a local authority’s failure to maintain a Statement of Special Educational Needs pending the outcome of a cease to maintain appeal to SENTW.
Whilst in-house, he was part of the team working on a number of reported, high profile education cases including:
- DJ v Welsh Ministers & Ors  EWHC 2735 (Admin)
- Thilakawardhana v Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education  EWCA Civ 13
- Zahid v University of Manchester & Ors  EWHC 188 (Admin)
- DS v Wolverhampton City Council  EWHC 1660 (Admin)
Community care is a particular area of interest for Matthew who has been involved in a number of judicial review challenges concerning the same:
- AA v Newport City Council – a challenge to the legality of the local authority’s withdrawal and subsequent request for repayment of direct payments
- LT v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council – a challenge to the local authority’s breach of section 37 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
- CJ v Powys County Council – advice and pre action correspondence concerning the local authority’s failure to assist with an application for a Disabled Funding Grant
- Re: AM – advice on reduce liability for care home fees through the efficient structuring of an estate
- TL v Newport City Council – a challenge against a failure to maintain support outlined in a Care and Support Plan
- Re: TG – advising on liability for a surviving relative to pay care home fees for a deceased family member
- TL v Ceredigion Council – judicial review challenge to the local authority’s failure to provide adequate care and support provision
Health/Court of Protection
Matthew is an expert in Court of Protection and healthcare matters and disputes, with experience in both Judicial Review and Court of Protection proceedings including complex section 21A deprivation of liberty challenges. He acts for both individuals, families, local authorities, Health Boards, central government and charities. Recent cases include:
- MM v Cardiff and Vale University Health Board – judicial review of a health boards decision to refuse to provide adequate nursing care at the claimant’s home thereby preventing him from visiting his mother
- JW v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council – challenge to the legality of the local authority’s decision not to fund rental costs under section 117 aftercare
- Re: JC – Representing a family member in a long running section 21A challenge concerning allegations of risk of harm to P should he have to return to live with his family
- Re: JC – Representing a family member in a section 16 challenge concerning whether P should have unsupervised contact with his parents
- Re: HC – Representing P in a section 21A challenge regarding the restrictiveness of placement in a care home setting
- Re: CEM – Acting for P in a matter concerning end of life arrangements
- Settling eight Summary Grounds of Resistance for the Secretary of State for the Home Office
- Advising on a wide range of community care matters, most recently structuring an estate to circumvent care home fees, advising on disputing a care home invoice and assisting bring judicial review proceedings against a decision refusing to allow a patient to return home from hospital
- Advising on Continuing Healthcare Funding, appearing in court on behalf of a Respondent local authority client in the Court of Protection successfully securing costs from the Applicant and advising on and settling witness evidence for a Respondent family member in the Court of Protection.
Matthew Wyard’s interest in corporate work was sparked when he spent six months working as a legal assistant to Urmilla Boolell SC at a top tier commercial chambers in Mauritius.
His public law practise means that he is perfectly placed to advise on the use of public law remedies and challenges to advance commercial interests.
He also maintains an active interest in all areas, with a particular focus on non-contentious drafting within his specialist sectors of education, health and community care, but also in the media field following his appointment as a non-executive director of a music school.
Matthew is familiar with and has experience advising on and drafting a wide range of commercial documentation including:
- Joint Venture Agreements;
- Asset Purchase Agreements;
- Terms and Conditions of Business;
- Student contracts;
- Debt policies;
- Payment plans and financial agreements;
- Paid contribution agreements;
- Unpaid contribution agreements;
- Various forms of licences;
- A variety of intellectual property agreements;
- Contracts of employment; and
- Appraisal forms.
Disputes that Matthew has recently been involved with include:
- Drafting particulars of claim and advising on jurisdiction in a cross border claim for breach of contract, negligence and personal injury;
- A dispute between the directors of, and consultants for, a pharmaceutical company as to the apportionment of liability between the company and consultants upon the consultants’ retirement;
- Cost proceedings brought under the Solicitors Act 1974;
- Representing the defendant company in a claim for unlawful interference with goods;
- Representing the aggrieved individual in a dispute under the Electronic Communications Code against a telecommunications company;
- Representing the defendant solicitor’s firm in a breach of contract and negligence claim brought by a dissatisfied client at first instance and on appeal;
- Representing both creditors and debtors in bankruptcy proceedings; and
- Disputes between independent schools and parents for unpaid fees in lieu of notice.
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Matthew Wyard has practised in the field of education law for 8 years and is happy to represent any party in educational disputes. He is currently writing for the forthcoming, inaugural edition of the new Education Law Handbook and, has previously been published in The Times Higher Education, the Education Law Monitor and the Solicitors Journal.
A busy education law barrister, examples of Matthew’s caseload in education is set out below:
Special Educational Needs
Matthew is one of only a handful of barristers who has an understanding of, and experience in, both the English and Welsh special educational needs systems. He has appeared in over 80 appeals/claims representing all parties in all types of appeal before SENDIST and SENTW. Additionally, Matthew has appeared in the Upper Tribunal and is currently instructed as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal for the Respondents in Nottinghamshire County Council v SF & GD concerning the interpretation of “necessary” under section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
He is an expert on the new special education needs system planned in Wales for 2020 and is undertaking training for Schools on the changes and demands of the new law.
Having worked in house he also has experience attending annual reviews, dispute resolution meetings and mediations.
Judicial review challenges to legality of decisions made by Admissions Authorities, Independent Review Panels (England) and Independent Appeal Panels (Wales) are Matthew’s main area of focus in admissions and exclusion matters. That being said, Matthew is more than happy to assist at all stages of the admissions and exclusions processes.
Having spent his first few years working in-house in the public law and commercial litigation departments of a national public law firm, Matthew is well placed to advise from the outset on all forms of civil litigation in the education sector. He has a particular interest in claims brought by students against higher education institutions and has been involved in a variety of such claims to date including:
- Re: GY – claim for breach of contract and/or negligence against the country’s leading higher education institution for a failure to remove the student from a PhD course when it became clear she could not succeed.
- Re: MK – claim for negligence against a medical school for how it conducted a fitness to practise process, resulting in a six figure settlement for lost earnings.
- Re: AS – claim for breach of contract against a London college for failing to appropriately deal with bullying.
- Re: B – defending a claim for fees in lieu of notice brought by a prestigious independent school.
- Re: JH – defending a claim for unpaid university fees.
- Re: CN – claim against an independent school for breach of contract and breach of the Equality Act 2010 in how it handled the exclusion of a child resulting in a five figure settlement.
Matthew is happy to be instructed as early as possible in all civil matters in order to assist manage expectations and develop the initial case strategy.
Education judicial review challenges
Matthew has depth of experience in education public law challenges. These have included :
- DJ v The Welsh Ministers & Ors  EWHC 2735 (Admin) – a challenge to the Welsh Ministers Guidance on post 16 education
- Thilakawardhana v OIA  EWCA Civ 13 – application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal and the substantive appeal
- Zahid v University of Manchester  EWHC 188 (Admin) – leading authority on the relationship between the courts and the OIA
- DS v Wolverhampton City Council  EWHC 1660 (Admin) – considering the application of s19 Education Act 1996
- AC v OIA (unreported) – considering the legality of the OIA’s rules
For more information please see his public law expertise section of his CV.
Matthew has experience advising schools and higher education institutions on a wide range of governance and employment issues including information law obligations. Additionally, he has drafted and advised upon various policies, procedures and contractual documentation (see Matthew’s public & regulatory CV).
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Matthew Wyard maintains an interest in cases concerning children, having spent time working with a leading childcare silk during pupillage. He is a contributing editor to Clarke Hall and Morrison on Children and is often instructed in family matters involving education issues, such as where parents seek specific issue orders in relation to schooling. He has appeared at all levels up to and including the High Court in disputes including recently:
- Re G – successfully defended a local authority’s application to discharge the court’s wardship jurisdiction over an internationally abducted child in the Family Division;
- Re C – application for internal relocation;
- Re C - successfully represented the respondent mother in defending an application for child arrangements;
- Re E - represented the applicant father in an application for internal relocation and contact; and
- Re J & A - represented the defendant mother in an application for a specific issue order that the children be educated at school rather than home schooled.
Alongside private child disputes Matthew has experience at all stages of child care proceedings in a wide variety of applications including for Placement Orders, Care Orders and Special Guardianship Orders.
Matthew also has experience in financial remedy matters and family property disputes, including advising on claims for proprietary estoppel, unjust enrichment and TOLATA applications.
- 2014: Called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn)
- 2012 – 2013: Postgraduate Diploma in Law, City Law School
- 2008 – 2012: LL.B (Hons)(SW) Law, University of Surrey
- Erasmus Scholarship
- Blackstone Chambers BPTC Mooting Competition, Semi finalist, 2013
Professional qualifications & appointments
- Bar Professional Training Course, City Law School, 2012 – 2013
- Lincoln's Inn, Member