nplaw has been paying tribute to a much loved and respected colleague who died unexpectedly on 14th February 2017.
Chris Skinner was Practice Director of nplaw, the shared legal service for local authorities hosted by the County Council. He had helped set up nplaw in 2009 when he was heading up Great Yarmouth’s legal team. In 2010, he and his colleagues from Great Yarmouth and Norwich City Councils joined nplaw and he became deputy to Victoria McNeill whom he succeeded as Practice Director at the end of 2016.
Chris was a very practical lawyer. No job was too lowly or too complex for him and he strongly supported junior and less experienced staff in their development. A charming and modest man, Chris also had a formidable reputation as a leading expert on regeneration work, particularly compulsory purchase, acting for clients across the UK.
Chris had expertise in planning, property and litigation and was skilled at using the law in innovative and unconventional ways to solve practical problems. In the 1990s, he was working in Great Yarmouth at a time when there was a national shortage of housing for the most deprived people in the UK. Yet many of the houses in Great Yarmouth were lying empty. Chris started a campaign to get these houses occupied by the people who needed them most and this led to an almost unique approach, for the time, to using compulsory purchase powers to solve relatively small, local but enduring problems.
Those who knew him well will not be surprised that at every stage of his illness, he always felt positive about his recovery. Never liking to be away from work for too long, Chris wrote three legal articles for national publications in the week before his untimely death.
Family was hugely important to Chris and he was never happier than when spending time with them. As well as family, Chris had many friends and colleagues throughout Norfolk and beyond. His loss will be a cause of great sadness for so many.