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Our People

Director – Mark Small

Solicitor-Advocate (Civil Proceedings) (LLB (Hons), Dip.L.G)

mark@bakersmall.co.uk

01908 889081

Mark qualified as a solicitor in September 2005 and as a Solicitor-Advocate in August 2011. He set up Baker Small primarily to focus on public sector law in March 2010 and the firm is now ranked as a top tier firm for Education (South East) by the Legal 500. This ranking has been in place since October 2014. 

Profile

Mark is a formidable solicitor-advocate and is one of the leading education lawyers. Mark's record of representing local authorities is unrivaled and particular highlights include: 

  • Mark designed and implemented a Tribunal process for a South Eastern local authority. This resulted in significant improvements in the local authority's decision-making and a reduction in the number of appeals registered. In one year alone, the local authority saved £300,000 as a result of improved processes and Tribunal outcomes.
  • Mark has undertaken work for a council in the South West. Since his engagement, the number of appeals has reduced by over 60%. Baker Small has represented the Council in 49 cases. Of these cases, 39 appeals were resolved through mediation and the promotion of local disagreement resolution services. Of the cases that proceeded, 10 cases went to a final hearing, 8 of them being determined in the Council’s favour. 
  • Mark acted and advised a London Borough in respect of 19 SEN appeals and to support the use of mediation services generally. Of these cases, 13 proceeded to a final hearing before the SEN Tribunal. 11 appeals were determined in favour of the Council, 2 were lost. The remaining 6 cases were settled by mediation or through discussion with the Council and the Parents. Since the engagement of Baker Small the number of appeals registered fell by 54%.
  • Mark acted for a number of local authorities in the West Midlands. Since his engagement he has acted on 37 appeals. 29 appeals proceeded to a final hearing with 22 being determined in the favour of the local authorities and 7 in favour of the parents. The remainder were either negotiated or resolved through mediation.
  • In these examples, Mark acted in 52 appeal hearings, with 41 being determined in the favour of the local authority. This represents a success rate of 79%. In an area of law where parents are successful in 86% of appeals nationally, this demonstrates the expertise and quality of our support and advice. It is also to note that in the 105 cases that we were instructed in overall, 52% were resolved prior to a hearing through the use of mediation and disagreement resolution services. 

Since the introduction of our SEN4You Services in September 2015, Mark has maintained a 100% success rate in representing parents before the SEN Tribunal.  He has helped parents secure independent specialist placements (day and residential) for children and young people and is keen to extend his expertise and support to parents and young people further. His knowledge and experience of working for and within local authorities (at all levels) is unrivaled. 

Qualifications

  • Law Degree (Hons)
  • Diploma in Legal Practice (LPC)
  • ILM Diploma in Management (Level 5)
  • Diploma in Local Government Law
  • Higher Rights

Areas of Expertise

Mark has considerable experience of both the private and public sector having represented individuals and a wide range of organisations in a range of legal disputes. Mark has also led teams in-house working in two Local Authorities. In these roles Mark developed the legal services offered for schools and internal clients. As a result, Mark was nominated for the Local Government Young Solicitor of the Year on two separate occasions.

Mark advises on all areas of education, litigation, public law and employment law and regularly handles a range of matters including:

  • Applications for judicial review against schools and local authorities
  • Disputes concerning Special Educational Needs and disability discrimination
  • Whole school issues such as exclusions from school, admissions disputes and complaints
  • Governance issues including school expansions and Academy start up
  • Litigation in the County Court, claims in the Employment Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal

Reported Cases

Mark's reported legal cases emphasise the firms significant presence in the field of public law and in particular SEN and disability. A number of important precedents have been established highlighting Baker Small as a leading presence in the area:

  • SJ v Worcestershire County Council [2012] UKUT 451 (AAC) (20 November 2012)
  • CW v Hertfordshire County Council [2013] UKUT 90 (AAC) (07 February 2013)
  • Davies & Bowie v Gloucestershire County Council [2013] UKUT 0112 (AAC)
  • Buckinghamshire County Council v ST [2013] UKUT 468 (AAC)
  • Buckinghamshire County Council v HW [2013] UKUT 0470 (AAC)
  • Worcestershire County Council v JJ (SEN) [2014] UKUT 0406 (AAC)
  • LW v Norfolk County Council [2015] (SEN) UKUT 0065 (AAC)
  • KC v LB Hammersmith and Fulham (SEN) [2015] UKUT 0177 AAC
  • MA v Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (SEN) [2015] UKUT 0186 (AAC)
  • Cambridgeshire County Council v SF (SEN) [2015] UKUT 0231 (AAC)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea v CD [2015] UKUT 396 (AAC)
  • Hammersmith & Fulham LBC v L, Hammersmith & Fulham LBC v F, O v Lancashire CC, H v Lancashire CC [2015] UKUT 0523 (AAC)
  • P v Worcestershire County Council (SEN) [2016] UKUT 0120 (AAC)
  • R (Y) v London Borough of Croydon [2016] 138 QBD London Borough of Croydon v LE (SEN) [2016] HS/2365/2015 
  • London Borough of Hillingdon v WW [2016] UKUT 0253 (AAC)
  • Buckinghamshire County Council v SJ [2016] UKUT 0254 (AAC)
  • Cambridgeshire County Council v FL-J [2016] UKUT 225 (AAC)
  • C & S v Worcestershire County Council [2016] UKUT 0267 (AAC)
  • Hertfordshire County Council v (1) MC, (2) KC (SEN) [2016] UKUT 0385 (AAC)
  • SC and MS v Worcestershire County Council [2016] UKUT 267 (AAC)
  • A v Durham County Council [2016] HS/231/2016

Interests

In his spare time you may find Mark at Ashton Gate watching his beloved Bristol City or following his other passion, WWII history. Mark is also a keen collector of WWII aviation art and in particular the works of Robert Taylor.

Thank you for your hard work in contributing to our success. I know your confidence in the weakness of the case gave us great heart in continuing to fight on

Headteacher, Employment Claim