I specialise in local authorities’ corporate law and decision making. I joined my first local authority in 1988 as a trainee Chartered Secretary and then Solicitor. I was first made an authority’s Monitoring Officer and a member of the senior management team in 2000. Since then I have acted on governance, standards and monitoring officer issues for a wide range of local authorities, combined authorities and central government through both consultancy and direct employment.
One of my roles prior to joining Bevan Brittan was as Corporate Director for Law and Governance at Wirral MBC. I am also a past president of the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (now LLG), where I was the national spokesperson on local authority powers and regulatory matters for several years.
I have led on a number of national projects on governance and standards, including:
- the model Members’ Planning Code (described by the Supreme Court as offering sound practical advice);
- the LLG example Code for the Governance of Council Interests in Companies;
- materials and training products that make up the LGA Ethical Governance Toolkit; and
- the Parish Council Governance Toolkit.
I have extensive experience in constitutional matters and have advised on their drafting for a variety of local authorities, which has included leading on governance for the creation of the West of England CA and drafting the inaugural constitution for the Liverpool City Region CA. I have at various times chaired the national groupings on council constitutions (England), new committee system authorities and on parish council governance.
I am the current author of Knowles on Local Authority Meetings and am an editorial consultant and external author for the local authority governance areas of LexisNexis PSL.
I am also an examiner for the Law Society’s Diploma in Local Authority Law and Practice.
Phillip McCourt recently delivered in-person training to officers on report-writing. Not only is he extremely knowledgeable on all the technical and legal aspects, but he brought the subject matter to life with humour and anecdotes from his own experience as a Monitoring Officer. We have received universally positive feedback from those who attended.