Stephen has over 20 years' experience in delivering high-performing legal, governance and commercial services to social housing providers and local authorities, specialising in housing management, governance, regulation and contracts.
Before joining Croftons, Stephen was Head of Legal Services for Onward Homes Group where he developed and led the Group's in-house legal service and acted as general counsel on the Group's legal, governance & regulatory business. During his seven years at Onward, Stephen developed significant expertise in social housing sector law and governance, in particular housing management, regulatory compliance, charity, operational contracts and asset management/compliance. Stephen advised on a wide range of strategic projects including demerger, transfer of engagements, GDPR and volume disrepair claim management.
Before moving to set up the Onward Legal Service, Stephen was Head of Housing & Neighbourhood Legal Services at Manchester City Council managing a large team of lawyers providing specialist legal services to the Council’s Strategic Housing Service and its partner social housing organisations covering 60,000 homes throughout the City. His work also included advising the Council's ASB and C&D Service, Homelessness & Housing Options Service, HMO & Selective Licensing Service, and PRS Service.
Stephen uses his wealth of strategic and operational sector experience to support and guide clients to ensure their businesses operate effectively and efficiently within the law. Stephen’s recent housing management work has included: coaching and development of clients' ASB teams; organising aligned strategic response to volume disrepair claims to ensure protocol compliance and reduction of legal costs; and overseeing full review and revision of complete suite of tenancy and occupancy agreements. Stephen enjoys handling both project work and housing management caseloads.
Stephen qualified as a Solicitor in 1996 specialising in litigation and has provided legal services to the housing sector in private practice and in-house roles throughout his legal career.
Stephen’s housing management experience includes:
- Developed and organised strategic response to increase in disrepair litigation including developing in-house expert reports, aligned responsive intra-department document retrieval, regime of delegated authority to increase efficiency and refined data supply to executive to manage/oversee strategic risk.
- Provided close training, support and mentoring to ASB team to increase efficiency, effectiveness and legal outputs/successes.
Supreme Court - supervising solicitor on leading public law “proportionality” case MCC v Pinnock (2010).
- Developed and implemented new HMO and selective licensing regimes under Housing Act 2004 duties and powers including governance, policy and procedures.
- Devised and drafting Manchester City Councils sector leading strategic statutory housing allocation & CBL scheme including liaison with RP partners to ensure alignment to their charitable objectives.
- Acted on Alexander Park multimillion pound lottery funded regeneration project including securing vacant possession of various occupied parts of the site
- Creation of strategic analysis tools for determining relative housing poverty to ensure allocations scheme operate intra vires for charity law purposes.
Stephen’s governance & regulatory project experience includes:
- Legal risk management, assurance & reporting – devised reporting regimes to provide oversight, assurance and horizon scan to Audit & Risk Committee in relation to legal risks, litigation and “compliance with all laws” regulatory obligation.
- Strategic Governance – drafted schemes of delegations; ToR for committees; Charity Investment Policy
- Demerger – legal advisor on project team advising on sequential steps necessary for demerger under terms of IGA; project planning; identifying and managing strategic risks; co-ordinating multi-disciplinary input to prepare terms of Demerger Deed; comprehensive contract due diligence and novation negotiation; oversight of operational cessation of services.
- Transition & governance - led “Governance & Legal” transition project in sequential transition to common boards, single operating model and ToE including: project planning; identifying and managing strategic risks; devising and embedding new behaviour characteristics; Company Secretary tasks including resolutions, rule changes, trustee retirements, HCA & FCA consents & notifications.
- FCA consumer credit compliance audit & assurance – identified compliance issues; carried out audit on business activities and FCA authorities; client awareness training; supervise and oversee programme of applications for new and updated FCA authorities; oversee intra-department transfer of FCA regulatory responsibilities.
- GDPR compliance – managing strategic GDPR compliance risk and GAP report; oversee and deliver organisations initial mobilisation for GDPR including interim line management of DPO; develop initial GDPR mobilisation plan (independently validated). Provided legal advice to DPO on GDPR and handled variation of 50+ commercial contracts with third party data processors.
- Contract & commercial – supporting Procurement services by creation of suite of operational standard contracts including SLAs, NDAs, consultancy agreements, goods and services contracts.
- Dealing with high level & sensitive matters – investigations into board member conduct and breach of Code; led response to fire in large residential block including residence management/decant, insurance claims and PR communications; coroner investigations; serious injury claims based on failure to repair; data security breaches ICO interface; gang land murder and threats to staff.