Smita's practice combines all aspects of children law and an ongoing commitment to human rights.
Smita's practice is premised upon:
- The highest level of client care; whether lay or professional
- Rigorous preparation in fact and law
- Commitment to publicly funded work
She has developed a particular skill in public and private law Children Act 1989 and ancillary matters such as domestic violence.
Smita regularly acts for guardians, parents and local authorities. She has an expertise and experience in:
- Complex and conflicting expert and medical evidence
- Adoption and placement orders Acting for teenage parents and child clients
- Acting for teenage parents and child clients
- Clients with complex needs such as mental health and disabilities
- Confidentiality and disclosure points
- Where there are concurrent criminal proceedings
- Surrogacy and parental orders
Smita represents both parents and children in private law. She appears in cases which include:
- All s.8 Children Act 1989 matters
- Appointment of rule 9.5 guardians
- Enforcement procedures, whether involving High Court Tipstaff or s.33/34 of Family Law Act 1986
- Use of expert and medical evidence
- Applications including a foreign element in residence or contact
- The role of local authorities in private law proceedings
- Allegations of abuse and harm
Smita continues to carry out all Part IV Family Law Act 1996 cases and to represent survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence.
Her Paper: Amelioration of Risk: EPO's and PPO's which was delivered at a seminar in chambers to Solicitors on 19/01/12 is available for download here.
International Advisory/Consultancy and Capacity Building
Alongside her domestic practice Smita is active in international human rights and humanitarian law. Her particular areas of interest are child rights and women's rights, particularly in times of conflict. Her international advisory and consultancy work includes:
- Ongoing advisory work with Peace Brigades International on Colombia, recently led a team of Barristers in am Amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court of Colombia on the San Jose de Apartado case. The amicus can be found here in English and here in Spanish.
- Active Member of the UK CEDAW Working Group and is working on the CEDAW UK Shadow report 2013 and advises on potential cases using the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW Committee.
- Active member of Right of Child Coalition - assisted by drafting the ROCK submission to the Commission on the Bill of Rights which can be found here.
- July 2012 and November 2012,in Lafia and Calabar, Nigeria as an expert trainer on Child rights to Nigerian Child Protection Networks on Documenting and Monitoring Child Rights violations and Taking Human Rights Litigation before Regional and International Fora for Bar Human Rights Committee and UNICEF Nigeria. Her power point presentations are available here.
- From December 2006 February 2007 placement for the Bar Human Rights Committee in Ramallah, Occupied Palestinian Territory. Smita worked with the local bar association to build the capacity of local lawyers to utilise United Nations Human Rights mechanisms. She wrote a report of her visit to the Military Tribunals in 2007.
- A fact-finding mission for Justice for Colombia in May 2006, contributing to the delegation report. Her contribution focused particularly on the situation faced by women during the conflict.
Publications and Research
In 2012 Smita was invited by UNICEF UK to sit as a member of the Advisory Board for research they commissioned to be undertaken by Queens University Belfast, entitled: The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: a study of implementation in 12 countries (2012) which can be found here.
She was a Visiting Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Cambridge University in 2011 and carried out research on 'Children before Military Tribunals'.
She has spoken at a number of international conferences and delivered the following papers:
- Organised and ran a recent workshop on Securing Freedom of Expression through UN Human Rights Special Procedures on 11th April 2012 as a part of the Price Moot Court, Oxford University (where she was also a judge), power point can be found here and case study can be found here - please email for sample letter and trainers guide.
- (By invitation) presented workshops and papers at the British Algerian Legal and Judicial Conference on Algiers from 23rd to 24th March 2013, for the Law Society and Algerian Bar Association. She delivered a workshop on Family Courts, Procedure and Women's Rights and Children's Rights, Courtroom advocacy and a plenary on the Role of lawyers. Her power point presentations can be found here.
- (by Invitation) Presented a paper, 'The Child as an Agent of Change in International Law' at a Conference 'Agents of Change: The Individual as Participant in the Legal Process' Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, Cambridge University, 19-20/05/12. Her power point presentation can be found here.
- Presented a paper, 'Children, Juvenile Justice and Military Court ' At a Symposium on Military Justice in the Modern Age, Melbourne Law School, Melbourne University, 03-05/11/11. This is due for publication.
- Presented a paper 'The problems of children are social problems: ill-treatment, alternative care and the UK' at Protective Environment- Active Participation, International Child Rights Conference, Bethlehem, OPT for DCI - Palestine Section on 10 November 2010.
Smita has previously been a trainer for the Solicitor International Human Rights Group and has delivered their annual training on UN Human Rights Mechanisms for a number of years.
Smita was a Visiting Lecturer to the University of North London from March 2002 and then later London Metropolitan University from September 2003 until August 2006. She taught Refugees and Human Rights and an innovative seminar entitled the Legal Regulation of Conflict to postgraduate students.
Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC)
President of Inner Temple Student Association 2001 to 2002
Smita was a member of the Legal Team at the Kurdish Human Rights Project taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights. She was appointed as a Teaching Assistant to the Human Rights Law Clinic while studying at Columbia Law School, New York from 2002-2003, she supervised litigation to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on behalf of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Smita had previously worked for Amnesty International in their section offices in New Zealand, Thailand and with affiliated activists in Malaysia during the notorious Anwar Ibrahim trial. Upon her return to the UK she worked with the Middle East Team at the Amnesty International, International Secretariat.
Profile updated April 2013
Year of Call
MA Understanding and Securing Human Rights (Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London) LLM International and Comparative Law (Columbia University, New York), Visiting Fellow 2011, Cambridge University
020 7993 7850
Smita Shah is a member of the following Practice Areas:
- International Advice and Litigation