Who? Mitchell Woolf, 46, consultant solicitor at London firm Scott-Moncrieff and a lecturer in international law on the rights of the child at Queen Mary University of London.
Why is he in the news? Acted in a case that became the first where the Supreme Court found for a claimant in a social security dispute.
Cameron Mathieson died aged five after spending two years in hospital with cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. Following its usual practice, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had withdrawn disability living allowance (DLA) from Cameron’s parents after he had been in hospital for 84 days.
Woolf’s clients, Cameron’s parents, challenged the so-called 84-day rule.
The DWP argued that DLA should be stopped because, when in hospital, the NHS met the child’s care needs. However, the Mathiesons, through research carried out by charities Contact a Family and The Children’s Trust, were able to convince the Supreme Court that costs relating to a child’s disability increase when he or she is in hospital.
The court unanimously ruled that taking away DLA from a disabled child after 84 days in hospital breached their human rights and was unlawful.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The hospital relied on Cameron’s parents for help with his daily care, meaning that one of them was always at the hospital. The DLA funded their time off work by paying for travel to and from the hospital and childcare. Winning this case provides a fitting legacy for Cameron and throws a lifeline to the estimated 500 other families who are also victims of the 84-day rule.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I chanced upon human rights law and found it exciting and stimulating.’
Career high: ‘Winning the Mathieson case in the Supreme Court is probably as good as it gets.’
Career low: ‘I used to work on death row cases and the low point was when Glen Ashby was hanged in Trinidad and Tobago in 1994 just minutes before the Privy Council [sitting in London] granted him a stay.’