Activist Lawyer, Featuring David Renton, Launches
The latest podcast episode of Activist Lawyer features David Renton, Barrister in Garden Court Chambers in London, specialising in Employment and Housing teams.
Renton has represented a variety of clients including blacklisted construction workers and victimised political activists.
David Renton’s interview on Activist Lawyer is available to listen to now httpR://open.spotify.com/episode/58fzSmLgNO3ghPwhWE5jf3?si=ecfd70f195974d58 and across all major streaming platforms or via www.ActivistLawyer.com
Here, we speak to Renton to find out what activism means to him.
How important is activism?
R: Without activism, we would not have the vote, workers would not have the weekend and landlords would be free to evict tenants at will.
Can we use the law effectively as a tool for activism?
R: Yes, sometimes. The theme of my new book “Against the Law” (published by Repeater in July) is that activists need to be much cleverer in how they use the law, not automatically, not as a substitute for campaigning and not if it is going to weaken social movements.
Tell us about a career milestone that will stay with you forever.
R: During the Construction Blacklist litigation, I was representing one of the workers at the Employment Tribunal. I would go on to argue his case at the EAT, the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights. But this was the very first hearing and, the night before, workers in my local trade council sent me solidarity greetings and wished me well. It was lovely to think that people were following the case and discussing it.
Does your current practice specialise in campaigning/representing clients in a specific area, and if so, how did you get involved in this area?
R: Before I was a barrister, I was a trade union activist and then an official with the lecturers’ union UCU. That’s why I do employment law. I combined that with housing law, as both cover similar laws (discrimination) and have a similar underlying ethos of class justice.
What is the most important change to the law that you feel needs to be addressed now?
R: For more than three years, ministers have been promising to abolish no-fault evictions: the promise has been in an election manifesto, two Queen’s Speeches, and two formal consultations. Whoever wins the Conservative election contest, we need to hold them to it – especially now, with hundreds of thousands of tenants in danger of being forced into poverty by the raising of the cap on fuel bills.
Subscribe to Activist Lawyer and download the latest episodes on your chosen podcasting platform. See httpR://open.spotify.com/show/73ZXpxDvN3vudpkmjADh9Q?si=9jC3_gWcQbKJDvTBdrJ0Hg for episodes.
Renton tweets about the law as @dkrenton and politics as @livesrunning. Renton also maintains his blog on livesrunning.wordpress.com/