033 0202 0707 029 2038 8398

Meet the Team

Christopher McFarland

Christopher McFarlandDirector

029 2038 8398
Education Law, Higher Education Law, Special Needs Law

Christopher is a Director within the Education and Public Law departments at Sinclairslaw. Starting with the firm as a trainee in 2013, Christopher has risen internally through the ranks to lead the Education Team in our Cardiff Office. He is the firm Legal Aid Supervisor for Education.

Professional Expertise

Christopher specialises in all areas of Education and Public law. He has extensive experience with Special Educational Needs (SEN), Additional Learning Needs (ALN), Discrimination and Higher Education cases. Christopher has significant experience in pursuing complex judicial review cases at the High Court and was recently a key member of the firm’s team which brought landmark success in the case of R (Gardner) v Secretary of State for Health and ors [2022] EWHC 967 (Admin).

As the Legal Aid supervisor for Education, Christopher oversees all of the firm’s Legal Aid cases alongside a busy and diverse private practise.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Christopher has nearly a decade of experience in supporting children, young people, parents and families with their SEN cases. Whether it is a Tribunal appeal, an admission appeal or an exclusion; Christopher’s calm experience and detailed knowledge of the law of SEN will help you navigate the complex evidence and arguments of your case.

Additional Learning Needs (ALN)

In Wales, Christopher has been a part of key discussions surrounding the creation and implementation of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018. Since its implementation, he has guided parents and professionals in better understanding the new legislation and the new system for pupils with ALN in Wales.

Christopher also has extensive experience in supporting young people in Wales in appealing decisions surrounding their Learning and Skills Assessments or Plans (LSA or LSP).

Upper Tribunal

Christopher also has experience in successfully appealing matters to the Upper Tribunal in circumstances where the First-Tier Tribunal has erred in law. His most recent success was in the case of AB v Newport CC [2022] UKUT 190 (AAC) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/62e7c08bd3bf7f75b89e189c/UA-2021-001315-HSWc.pdf


Christopher has extensive experience in bringing discrimination cases against schools, colleges and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) where they have failed to adhere to their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

Notable cases:

MH: Christopher represented a medical student with Dyslexia who had not received appropriate adjustments to one of his examinations. A bright and able student, the student had been prejudiced in this particular examination and had been removed from his course following his mark. After Christopher successfully negotiated his return to the course with appropriate adjustments, the student proceeded to pass his degree with strong grades and is now a practising doctor.

XX: Christopher represented a family whose child had been given a fixed term exclusion for failing to wear a mask during the pandemic. The child had ADHD and struggled to cope with the sensory experience of wearing a mask in lessons. The school had failed to follow government guidance on mask wearing for disabled pupils and had failed to make reasonable adjustments for the child. After a claim was issued to the SEN Tribunal, Christopher was able to negotiate the child’s return with appropriate adjustments in place, together with an apology from the school and a change of schoolwide policy.

Higher Education

Christopher has extensive experience in supporting clients with all elements of HEI and University cases, to include:

  • Student finance and fee queries;
  • Admission Appeals
  • Academic Appeals
  • Complaints
  • Fitness to Practise Cases

Christopher receives a number of referrals from other firms in the UK and has experience in pursuing cases through internal University procedures, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) and to the Civil or High Courts thereafter.

Judicial Review

Christopher has a broad public law practise, taking forward a number of complex cases. Christopher has particular experience in pursuing novel or unusual cases and his cases have been featured in local and national media.

Notable cases:

R (Gardner) v DHSC [2022] EWHC 967 (Admin): Christopher was a senior member of the team which brought about this landmark judgment against the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock) for implementing an unlawful policy regarding the discharge of patients to care homes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We represented two bereaved families of older men who had lost their lives from COVID-19 in a care home.

AC v OIA: Christopher led a case on behalf of a former medical student who sought to return to her course following a period of family difficulties. The OIA refused to hear her complaint due a misinterpretation of its duties under the Higher Education act 2004 https://www.oiahe.org.uk/media/1870/ac-hc-judgment.pdf

R (Lloyd) v Cardiff County Council: Christopher led a case for a client with electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EMH) who had seen his package of care removed without notice from the Council. The High Court ruled that the Council’s decision had been based on a flawed reading of inapplicable guidance and found in the Claimant’s favour.

Professional Regulation and Fitness to Practise

Christopher has extensive experience representing students and professionals with regulatory and fitness to practise cases. Christopher has represented clients dealing with regulatory issues under the GMC, GDC, HCPC and BPTC. Christopher has represented clients before University Fitness to Practise panels and before the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS).

Appointments, Publications and Media Appearances

Outside of his busy practise, Christopher also gives him time to external appointments and publications. Christopher has appeared in multiple news and media outlets and is available for media enquiries.

Notable Appointments: Legal Supervisor, Children’s Legal Centre Wales (2021 onwards) Advisory Panel to the Children’s Commissioner for Wales (2016-2020, the maximum term permitted), Consultant Editing Board: Local Government Law, Lexis Nexis (2019 onwards)

Publications: Education author, Clarke, Hall & Morrison on Children (2017 onwards), Lexis PSL Education author (multiple articles and practise notes (2016 onwards)

Media Appearances: Radio 4’s Today programme, the Times, the Metro and the Western Mail.

Outside of the Office

Away from the office, Christopher can be found walking the hills and beaches of Wales with his family.

He is a long-suffering follower of Cardiff City FC, the Welsh national rugby and football teams, and the Indianapolis Colts