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Irena Sabic

  • Call: 2002
Irena Sabic


Irena is an established public law practitioner with a particular expertise in immigration and asylum, community care, housing and planning law. In recent years Irena has focussed on representation of vulnerable children and adults subject to immigration control. For example, Irena is regularly instructed to represent unaccompanied asylum seeking children and victims of trafficking both in the immigration and community care context. Irena has significant expertise in civil claims arising from unlawful detention and on behalf of victims of trafficking.

Irena is public access accredited and welcomes enquiries from people or organisations seeking advice or representation in all areas of specialism.

Community Care

Irena regularly advises and represents individuals in the full range of claims for community care assistance, most commonly on behalf of highly vulnerable adults and children. Irena is experienced in urgent applications for interim relief and is able to advise and represent at short notice.

Irena also advises and represents in age dispute cases and she is frequently instructed in cases that raise trafficking indicators or involve unlawful removal or detention of age disputed children.

Immigration and Asylum

Irena has significant expertise in all areas of immigration and EU law, with a broad range of clients including businesses, private individuals, NGOs and educational institutions.

Irena is committed to representing vulnerable children and adults in the immigration system so her practice predominantly involves representing victims of trafficking and exploitation, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, immigrants with mental heath issues or those unlawfully detained. Irena is particularly interested in the overlap between the international, regional and domestic laws with respect to children and vulnerable adults. For example in 2011, Irena acted for Women’s Aid (led by Stephen Knafler QC) in E (Children) [2011] UKSC 27 where the Supreme Court considered the interaction between the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 8 ECHR.

Irena has a busy immigration practice and she often finds her expertise in immigration proves invaluable in housing and community care cases. Irena provides advice and representation in the full range of appeals before the FTT and UT, the Administrative Court and the Court for Appeal.

Planning and Environmental

Irena has extensive experience in planning and environmental law. In October 2011, she was instructed in high profile litigation concerning the eviction of Dale Farm residents. Irena was led by Marc Willers QC in judicial review proceedings in the Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal brought by the residents of Dale Farm: R. (on the application of McCarthy) v Basildon BC [2011]

Other notable cases include:

  • Successfully resisted residential development for 66 residential units
  • Successfully resisted development proposing 88 extra care homes
  • Appeared in applications for injunctions for breach of planning control and acted in committal hearings in relation to gypsies and travellers
  • Instructed as junior counsel for Barratt Homes Limited in a called in inquiry concerning residential development on a ‘reserve site’ which included issues concerning the effect on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA, necessity of releasing the site in order to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing and sustainability of the proposal
  • Advised and represented local residents’ group at a called-in planning inquiry in Wales (Vale of Glamorgan) which lasted four weeks and involved a range of issues such as historic landscape and affordable housing.

Further planning experience includes regular appearances at Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court in planning enforcement appeals.


Irena has considerable experience in representing and advising in all aspects of housing litigation including:

  • Possession proceedings against secure and non-secure tenants
  • Homelessness applications and s204 appeals
  • The validity of housing allocation schemes
  • Injunctions for anti-social behaviour
  • The interaction between housing and immigration legislation, particularly with regard to eligibility and support
  • Disrepair and housing benefit disputes

Irena also has extensive experience of representation at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal and she advises on property disputes in diverse and niche areas such as agricultural tenancies and claims for leasehold enfranchisement under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.

Cases of Interest

R. (on the application of O’Brien) v South Cambridgeshire DC [2016] EWHC 36 (Admin); [2016] J.P.L. 656;

R (on the application of Sabiri) v LB Croydon [2012] EWHC 1236

Muse v ECO [2012] EWCA Civ 10

  1. (on the application of McCarthy) v Basildon BC [2011]

E (Children) [2011] UKSC 27

R (on the application of Norton) v London Borough of Lambeth Council [2007] All ER (D);

R (on the application of M and others) v HM Treasury [2006]All ER (D) 108
Concerning the ambit of UN Security Council Resolution on freezing of funds of persons designated as terrorists by the UN.

Essa v SSHD [2005] EWCA Civ 1577 CA (Keen LJ, Carnwath LJ)
Immigration – Successful challenge of the decision of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. The Court of Appeal ruled that the AIT had not considered the background material in sufficient depth and there was no documentary or evidential support for the conclusion that it reached.

Kungwenwe v SSHD [2005] EWHC 1427
Judicial review of the Home Office decision under the 10-year concessionary policy based on the validity of the residence document granted in pursuance of EU law. The case highlights two different areas of law, EU freedom of movement and UK immigration law which pull in different directions.

FK (Somalia) [2004] UKIAT 00127 ‘Reported’
Immigration – (Shekhal Gandhershe) where the Tribunal found this sub-clan is within the Benadiri group. The case has been included in the Home Office Operational Guidance Note Feb 2004.


Since January 2009, Irena has been acting as a consultant for the Centre for Constitutional Rights, a U.S. based legal human rights organisation which has led the legal and political battle against Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Having graduated with a first class degree in law from Cambridge University, Irena spent a year working for a non-governmental organisation campaigning for protection and promotion of women’s rights at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. In 2007, Irena spent three months on a Pegasus Scholarship with the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York working on Guantanamo Bay litigation, taking a particular interest in interventions before the European Court of Human Rights and resettlement of Guantanamo refugees.
Irena combines a busy practice with regular delivery of training and lectures to public bodies and non-governmental organisations. Topics on which Irena has lectured include human rights, obligations to the destitute, tackling anti-social behaviour and law relating to gypsies and travellers.


  • Contributing author to Housing and Housing Benefit Law: A Practical Guide. (Housing and Human Rights chapter).
  • Contributing author to Judicial Review and Human Rights: Case Studies in Context.