William Hanbury

Call 1985


"He is very experienced and has excellent awareness of authorities, as well as being good with clients and providing clear and practical advice."

Chambers and Partners 2024
Photo of William Hanbury

Local Government & Social Housing

Bill undertakes advisory work and advocacy in most areas of local government law, including public sector housing and judicial review challenges to housing and other decisions, including the power to control anti-social behaviour. As a judge of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber he is also able to deal with immigration points arising out of these practice areas. Bill has undertaken town and village green inquiries and challenges to inspector’s decisions at all levels of the judicial ladder and advised in relation to public rights of way and highways law including land compensation claims.

He also has specialist experience of rating work, both advisory and advocacy, and has appeared in the Lands Chamber and Administrative Court in rating appeals. Bill has lectured widely to local authorities, local law societies and conducted webinars for the Law Society and for RICS. He has also written numerous books and articles including writing the Westlaw Insight article on article 8 and human rights.

Bill is consistently recommended as a leading individual in the Legal 500 guide and Chambers and Partners directory.

Bill has specialist experience of the following:

Local government powers

Recent cases include:

  • Appearing for a local authority enforcing liability for business improvement district (BID) levy under the business rates  against numerous ratepayers who refused to pay and objected to the constitutionality of the scheme.
  • Advising a local authority on enforcing unpaid care home fees.
  • Advising a local authority on procurement and whether a contract had complied with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.
  • Advising a local authority whether it had acted lawfully in relation to the introduction of a public spaces protection order.
  • Advising a householder whether to challenge by judicial review a traffic management order.
  • Advising a local authority in relation to a group repair scheme.
  • Advising on section 106 agreements and their enforcement.

Business rates and council tax

Bill has advised billing authorities and rate payers in relation to rates liability, especially for non-domestic rates, and has dealt with a number of rates avoidance schemes. He has appeared at all levels of the court and tribunal system including acting for the Oyston Angel Charity in Preston City Council v Oyston Angel Charity [2012] EWHC 2005, in which it was successfully argued that the charity concerned qualified for zero rating. He advised and appeared in a number of appeals by way of case stated and successfully responded to the appeal in Isle Investments Ltd v Leeds City Council [2021] EWHC 345 (Admin) where he argued that leases entered to avoid business rates were shams.

Recent cases include:

  • Appearing for a successful local authority responding to an appeal to the High Court against an authority’s refusal to award a council tax reduction where the appellant had alleged that the Valuation Tribunal had erred in law and that the Vice President had not carried out a proper review.
  • Advising a property company, where the client wished to convert a major office building into residential use, on the implications of the decision of the Supreme Court in Newbigin (VO) v Monk [2017] UKSC 14.
  • Acting for the ratepayer in relation to the interpretation of a commercial lease in the context of liability proceedings.
  • Acting for a billing authority in relation to whether rateable occupation had been established so as to enable a ratepayer to avail itself of the relief for unoccupied property.
  • Advising an educational institution whether it was liable for council tax on a newly constructed hall of residence.
  • Appearing in the High Court in insolvency proceedings where the issue was whether the original liability order had been correctly made.

Social housing

Bill has appeared in and advised on cases of alleged breaches of the equality duty under the Equality Act 2010 as well as the application of article 8 of the ECHR to both public and private sector tenancies. Reported cases include Michael Brown v Helena Housing [2015] UKLC 25 (ability of housing association to increase service charges and whether covered by sections 13-14 of Housing Act 1988).

Towns and village greens

He appeared for Kirklees MC at the inquiry in relation to the Churchfield site in which the inspector recommended rejection of the application for registration and in 2014 appeared for Scarborough BC in the Supreme Court in R (Barkas) v North Yorkshire Council and Scarborough Borough Council [2014] UKSC 31. He has also lectured on TVGs and advised local authorities as to the changes introduced by the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013.


Isle Investments Ltd v Leeds City Council [2021] EWHC 345 (Admin) (appearing for the successful local authority respondent in an important case stated in which the High Court dismissed an appeal against a decision that leases entered to avoid business rates were shams)

Scott v Martin, Upper Tribunal, Lands Chamber [2021] UKUT 0031 (LC) (whether a plan marked for “identification purposes only” could override the other indications in the surrounding circumstances and proper construction of the relevant conveyances)

Kent v Guest [2021] EWHC 51 (Ch) (on the interface between section 30 (1) (a) and (c) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and the extent of the judge at first instance’s discretion)

Re: The Croft (Bickershaw) Limited [2017] UKUT 339 (LC) (whether objector had locus standi)

Pye v Stodday [2016] EWHC 2454 (Ch) (whether a notice to quit served during the registration gap is effective to terminate a tenancy of an agricultural holding)

R (on the application of Barkas) v North Yorkshire County Council and Scarborough Borough Council [2014] UKSC 31 (whether a recreation ground can be registered as a town or village green)

Preston City Council v Oyston Angel Charity [2012] EWHC 2005 (liability of a charity for business rates on unoccupied premises)

Shand v Morgoed Estates [2010] 1 EGLR 149 (liability for rent charges)

Jacklin v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [2007] EWCA Civ 181 (right of way dispute-whether an injunction appropriate)

Margram PLC v Dorant Limited [2006] All ER (D) 212 (construction of rent review clause)

Bradford and Bingley PLC v Rashid [2006] EWHL 37 (mortgage shortfall claim-limitation and without prejudice admissions in a mortgage claim before the House of Lords)

North Yorkshire Trading Standards v Dacre Son and Hartley, [2005] 1 EGLR 11 (Property Misdescriptions Act 1989)

Hatton v Chafes [2003] PNLR 24 (solicitor’s negligence and limitation)

Keelwalk v Waller and Griffith [2002] 3 EGLR 79 (proprietary estoppel and ground leases)

R v Bradford MDC ex parte Pickering (2001) 33 HLR 38 (meaning of “owners interest”)

Broadway v the Putney Club and USSR Club [2001] RA 145 (rating appeal before the Lands Tribunal)