"completely on top of immigration and a really good operator. She has done important work on the safety of returns to Iraq and Iran".
Chambers and Partners 2013
Sonali specialises in advice and representation in all aspects of immigration, asylum and nationality law.
In immigration, she has particular experience in family reunion cases and in cases outside the immigration rules involving policy considerations and human rights principles. She has also dealt with cases involving deportation following criminal convictions. She also has an interest in nationality work including naturalisation, domicile issues and certificates of entitlement to the right of abode.
She has extensive experience in appeals before the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, Administrative Court and a developing Court of Appeal practice.
After qualifying as a barrister, Sonali worked at the Refugee Legal Centre for two years as an asylum appeals caseworker representing substantive asylum appeals from a wide range of refugee producing countries. She then worked at Tower Hamlets Law Centre for three years as an immigration lawyer, dealing with all aspects of general immigration and nationality law - advice, representation and advocacy at all levels. She mainly dealt with family reunion cases from the Indian sub-continent and Somali communities and nationality cases including domicile, naturalisation and certificates of entitlement. She was involved in many campaigns on immigration issues in particular those concerning new statutory provisions.
Her experience of working in the voluntary sector and campaigning on immigration issues informs the kind of work that Sonali pursues in practice. Cases which lead to the extension and development of rights of individuals whilst seeking to establish positive principles which can be more widely applied for greater benefit are her primary focus.
Through her practice and other activities, Sonali has been involved in speaking at public meetings and giving press and media comment on the immigration debate. She is heavily committed to lobbying for change and in contributing to an informed debate in the public and political arena.
Papers and training
Sonali has delivered training on the Human Rights Act and the various aspects of asylum and immigration legislation for the Legal Services Commission (LSC) and also to various organisations including JUSTICE, Liberty and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Central Law Training, as well as to other advice agencies and community organisations.
She regularly contributes to seminars and conferences in relation to immigration and asylum. She has also contributed to Legal Network Television training programmes on immigration and human rights and has also regularly appeared in the media, TV, radio and press - writing articles in broadsheet newspapers and legal journals alike. She is also a contributor to a leading text in the immigration field 'Macdonald's Immigration Law and Practice.
Immigration Law Practitioners' Association, Administrative Law Bar Association, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and Lawyers for Liberty.
Chair of JCWI 1998 to 2004 (now executive committee member); chair of Tower Hamlets Law Centre from 2000 to 2004; member of the board of trustees of Clean Break Theatre Company (working with women ex-offenders) since 1994.
Sonali was a member of the Funding Review Committee in immigration for Legal Services Commission (resigned). She was also invited to participate as a consultant on the set up of the accreditation scheme for immigration practitioners
- Administrative Court: Mugisha v SSHD;
- Court of Appeal: Betts v IAT (article 8, rights of non-parties, permission to appeal to the House of Lords granted),
- Detamu v IAT (material error of law re: approach to expert evidence),
- Abdi and Nadarajah (No.2) v SSHD (Legitimate expectation and 3rd country family links policy);
- AIT:GH (Former KAZ - Country Conditions - Effect) Iraq CG; SB (cessation and exclusion) Haiti