Who? Matthew Garbutt, solicitor at Devonshires.
Why is he in the news? He is acting for the Association of British Commuters, a campaign group formed in response to the strikes, cancellations and delays suffered on the Southern rail network. The group has obtained crowdfunding of more than £25,000 to instruct Devonshires. The firm is advising on potential actions against the Department for Transport (DfT) for failing to properly manage the Southern contract.
Meanwhile, Southern’s operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers remain locked in dispute.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The association’s call for the DfT to be transparent in its dealing with GTR is symptomatic of far wider discontent in the travelling public, whose daily commutes are rendered intolerable by the ongoing problems on the Southern network. The effects can be measured in lost jobs, lost income and lost quality of life. It can only be right that the DfT is transparent in its dealings with GTR so that, if appropriate, the DfT’s conduct can be reviewed by the court.’
Dealing with the media: ‘Press coverage has been essential to the crowdfunding campaign, and to garnering the support of MPs who are now rallying behind the call for transparency. The association is run by a small but incredibly hardworking and dedicated team without whom the campaign would have never reached the stage it is at today.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I was attracted to becoming a litigator by the sheer variety of work. I have a hugely diverse caseload which brings me into contact with different industries and alternative ways of working on a daily basis. This gives me a fascinating perspective on life and helps me provide insight from once case to another.’
Career high: ‘Working with the trustees of a charity to resolve seemingly intractable internal and external disputes, so enabling the charity to break ground on a substantial new community centre – a small but tangible and highly appreciated result.’
Career low: ‘Acting for elderly people investigated for historic offences, bringing into sharp relief the stress and anxiety that such investigations can cause. The best advice I have ever received for how to advise such clients is to treat them as if they are your mother or father.’