Matthew Wyard is a specialist public and regulatory law barrister. His public law practice focuses on education and community care/ court of protection. His regulatory practice focuses on the regulation of data, technology and cannabis/pharmaceutical products. He has appeared in courts/tribunals of all levels up to and including the Court of Appeal.
For a full description of Matthew’s areas of expertise please see his specialist profiles below.
Matthew was appointed to the Attorney General's C Panel of Counsel to the Crown in 2021 and is recognised as a Rising Star in the latest edition of the Legal 500 for three of his practice areas (education, court of protection and community care) having secured all three rankings on his first year of application. He is the only member of the bar outside of chambers in Wales to be ranked in both the Welsh education and court of protection rankings.
Having spent his first few years of practice as an employed public law barrister at a national law firm regularly instructing counsel himself, Matthew understands what instructing solicitors want from counsel and ensures that he is accessible, practical in his advice and a part of the wider litigation team in disputes.
Alongside his thriving practice, Matthew sits as a Chairman in the Valuation Tribunal for England and is non-executive director of a music and media business, Thinkspace Education.
Matthew is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. Please contact him for a copy of his privacy notice which sets out the basis upon which any personal data he may receive will be protected.
Matthew Wyard has practised in the field of education law since before his call to the Bar and is recognised as a Rising Star in the education field in the Legal 500. He acts for parents of disabled children, young people, students, schools, colleges, universities, local authorities and anyone else involved in disputes within the education sector. Having spent a significant time practicing in Wales, Matthew is experienced in advising on the devolved education system.
A busy education law barrister, examples of Matthew’s caseload in education is set out below:
Special Educational Needs (SEN)
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. Whilst almost all of Matthew’s special educational needs work is confidential, he has appeared in over 100 appeals/claims representing all parties in all types of appeal before SENDIST and SENTW. Additionally, Matthew has appeared in the Upper Tribunal and in judicial review challenges arising out of the special educational needs system.
Most recently, Matthew was instructed as junior counsel for the successful respondents in Nottinghamshire County Council v SF & GD  EWCA Civ 226, before the Court of Appeal, concerning the interpretation of “necessary” under section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and to seek leave for appeal to the Court of Appeal following the decision in D v Hampshire County Council  EWHC 2916 (Admin).
He is an expert on the new special education needs system planned in Wales for 2021 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.
Disability discrimination claims in the First Tier Tribunal are becoming increasingly common. Matthew regularly advises and represents schools defending such claims with a particular interest in defending independent schools and academies.
He is familiar with all aspects of the Equality Act 2010 and is frequently instructed by leading insurance firms upon receipt of a claim to assist devise case strategy, advise on prospects, advise on evidence and then attend the final hearing.
He has an enviable success rate and enjoys working with key stakeholders and responsible bodies to ensure that those claims that should be defended are done so thoroughly, whilst protecting reputational and other interests.
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.
Examples of the claims Matthew has been instructed in recently include:
SPS v Mr and Mrs P : advising the respondents on the prospects of success in defending a claim for fees in lieu of notice including the detailed consideration of multiple breaches of contract from both parties to identify the fundamental breach of contract.
N v University of E : advising the prospective claimant on a claim for breach of contract arising from the failure of her university to secure social work placements.
GY v University of O : 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.
MK v K College : 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.
AS v K College : claim for breach of contract against a London college for failing to appropriately deal with bullying.
O University v 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:
YMC v Office of Intercollegiate Studies : representing the claimant in what is thought to be the first judicial review challenge brought against the Office of Intercollegiate Studies.
MA v B University : advising on the grounds for judicial review arising from a university’s failure to grant extenuating circumstances.
JP v IAP : advising on the legality of an Independent Admissions Panel decision.
AT v An Academy : advising on the grounds of challenge to an Academy’s procedure for conducting a managed move which successfully settled at the pre action stage
Re: DR : advising on the merits of bringing a judicial review claim against a London Borough for maintaining a policy on not placing children below 16 in children’s homes.
DJ v The Welsh Ministers & Ors  EWHC 2735 (Admin) : 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 of 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 documents.