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Helen Foot

  • Call: 2008
"Great with clients, excellent written arguments and persuasive in court."

Legal 500, 2019

"She puts forward complex arguments and wins cases unexpectedly."

Legal 500, 2016


Helen is a public lawyer with expertise in asylum, immigration, human rights and nationality law.

She is ranked in the Legal 500 for immigration.

Great with clients, excellent written arguments and persuasive in court.”
Legal 500 2019

“She sees things from the client’s perspective.”
Legal 500 2017

“She puts forward complex arguments and wins cases unexpectedly.”
Legal 500 2016

“Her knowledge of immigration and asylum law is extensive, and her preparation excellent.”
Legal 500 2015

Her wide-ranging practice also includes community care, mental health law and extradition.

Helen is public access accredited and welcomes enquiries from individuals or organisations seeking advice or representation.

Immigration and Asylum

Helen has a busy practice in the First-tier and Upper Tribunal in immigration, asylum and deportation appeals and cases involving EU free movement law. She specializes in complex protection claims on behalf of victims of trafficking, LGBTI refugees and those fleeing gender-specific persecution.

Her public law practice includes challenges relating to immigration detention, removal and deportation, certification of human rights and protection claims and decisions under the National Referral Mechanism. She is experienced with urgent injunctions to prevent removal or deportation and is happy to be instructed at short notice.

Helen also acts in civil claims against public authorities in the immigration context. She was recently instructed in a claim under the Human Rights Act 1998 against the police and Home Office on behalf of a former victim of trafficking,


Helen has a rapidly expanding practice in nationality law. She regularly advises individuals on complex claims to British citizenship, naturalization applications and applications for registration on behalf of minors. She often advises individuals with ancestral links to the UK and is familiar with the independence legislation of several former British colonies.

Recent work includes a judicial review of a refusal to grant citizenship on grounds of failure to meet the ‘good character’ requirement, concerning the Secretary of State’s refusal to disclose reasons on public interest grounds. Helen has also recently advised on a complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) concerning the discriminatory effect of Kenyan independence legislation on women’s ability to transmit nationality to their children.

Community Care

Helen advises and represents vulnerable adults and children in judicial reviews concerning duties under the Children Act 1989. She frequently acts in age assessment disputes and has expertise in cases involving an immigration crossover where the impact of community care proceedings on parallel immigration proceedings is in issue.

She was recently instructed in a judicial review concerning a hospital’s refusal to provide emergency surgery to a 9 month old baby on the basis of her parents’ eligibility for charges under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011.

Mental health

Helen acts in civil claims for false imprisonment arising from detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 and represents individuals in appeals to the mental health tribunal. Throughout her practice areas, she has developed substantial experience in representing individuals with complex mental health needs.


Helen acts in contested extradition hearings in the Magistrates’ Court where human rights are in issue. She has recently advised and represented clients subject to parallel asylum and extradition proceedings and has a particular interest in this crossover area.

Notable cases

R (Hysaj) v SSHD UKSC 2016/0209
Whether the appellants’ British citizenship, which was obtained as the result of a fraud, was lawfully declared a nullity as the result of impersonation, or whether they continue to enjoy citizenship until they are subject to deprivation proceedings. Pending before the Supreme Court.

R (MA (Bangladesh)) v The Upper Tribunal & Anr C4/2015/1418
‘Cart’ judicial review concerning structural procedural unfairness in the claimant’s detained fast-track appeal and the application of Detention Action v The Lord Chancellor [2015] EWCA Civ 840. Pending in the Court of Appeal.

R (MA (Bangladesh)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department JR/2652/2015
Challenge to detention within the detained fast-track and attempted removal of claimant accepted for referral by the Helen Bamber Foundation as a potential victim of torture.  Linked to JM and others CO/377/2015. Pending in the Upper Tribunal.

SE (Ireland) v Secretary of State for the Home Department C3/2011/1172.
Appeal concerning the UK’s obligations under Zambrano to Irish citizen children who are settled in the UK and the prohibition on discrimination in Article 18 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Settled in appellant’s favour. Led by Stephen Knafler QC.

R (Mustafa Abdul Hussein) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC1952 (Admin)
Successful judicial review of a decision to refuse to grant indefinite leave to remain to an Iraqi hijacker of a Sudanese airbus at Stansted airport in 1996, who was detained, tortured and sentenced to death under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Led by David Jones. Reported in The Independent, The Evening Standard and The Telegraph.

EN (Serbia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 630.
Appeal concerning the meaning of ‘particularly serious crime’ in section 72 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and the requirements of Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention. Assisted Kathryn Cronin during pupillage.

Smithkline Beecham Plc & Ors v Avery & Ors (Representing Stop Huntingdon Cruelty (‘SHAC’) [2009] EWHC 1488 (QB). 
Application for an injunction by the GlaxoSmithKline group to restrain trespass by animal rights activists seeking to prevent the use of animals in medical research. Assisted Rajeev Thacker during pupillage in representing one of the defendant activists.


Helen is an editor of the Butterworths Immigration Law Service and a contributing author of McDonald’s Immigration Law and Practice (9th Edition) and Jackson’s Immigration Law and Practice (5th Revised Edition).


Helen became a tenant at Garden Court in October 2009 after completing pupillage under the supervision of Sonali Naik, Kathryn Cronin and Maya Sikand.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Helen worked for eight years as a television producer and broadcast journalist, producing documentaries and current affairs programmes.

During her legal training, Helen worked pro bono for the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) on behalf of LGBTI refugees. She volunteered at Solace Women’s Aid in Camden, advising victims of domestic violence. She recently worked with Liberty on an intervention strategy concerning the control orders regime, and drafted Liberty’s response to a parliamentary inquiry into unimplemented Strasbourg judgments.

Helen remains committed to pro bono work. She is a volunteer adviser at Haringay Migrants’ Support Group and is regularly instructed by Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID).

Awards and prizes

  • College Exhibition (University College Oxford, 1997)
  • Gibbs Prize in Philosophy (proxime accessit, University of Oxford,1998) for outstanding performance in philosophy finals
  • CPE Prize (London Metropolitan University, 2007) for graduating top of year
  • Bedingfield Scholarship (Gray’s Inn, 2007)
  • Arden Scholarship (Gray’s Inn, 2008)