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Maya Sikand

  • Call: 1997
Legal 500 UK Awards 2015: Winner

“She’s very authoritative in the written advice and on her feet. You really respect what she says and how she says it.” (Chambers & Partners)

“An impressive advocate and a lot of fun to work with”

“Sharp with an excellent grasp of the law” (Legal 500)



Maya currently heads up Chambers’ Civil Liberties Team. In the past she combined a heavy criminal trial practice with related judicial review challenges and civil litigation in the civil liberties sphere. She now has an almost exclusively  public law / civil liberties practice, primarily holding public authorities to account, with her criminal work limited to specialist appellate cases. She is an editor of the leading criminal text book Archbold (see further below).

Maya is ranked in Band 1 in Chambers UK 2017 for Police Law (Mainly Claimant):

“Her advocacy skills are good, she gives a detailed analysis and is a tenacious cross-examiner.” “Passionate and robust,”  “She brings energy and enthusiasm and has a can-do approach.”

“She is very engaged and hands-on.”

“She has a frankness and openness about her which is really refreshing. She cuts through a lot of stuff that other people dance around. She’s very authoritative in the written advice and on her feet. You really respect what she says and how she says it.”

She is a good advocate, and is able to stand her ground and respond effectively to unexpected questions.” “She is obviously passionate about the client’s best interests and that shines through in her advocacy.”

Maya is also recognised as a Leading Junior in Civil Liberties and Human Rights (including actions against the police) in the Legal 500:

“An impressive advocate and a lot of fun to work with” (Legal 500 2016)

“Sharp with an excellent grasp of the law” (Legal 500 2015)

“An expert in youth justice law” (Legal 500 2014)

Exceptional” (Legal 500 2013)

Judicial Review

She is an experienced public lawyer particularly in the context of criminal justice related judicial review and has a number of reported cases in this area  – for e.g. challenges to: police cautions, decisions by the CPS to prosecute or not to prosecute, youth courts and venue/jurisdiction, general criminal due process, prisoners’ rights (see further below), statutory compensation refusals for miscarriages of justice, compensation refusals by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), challenges to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC ). She was instructed as junior counsel in the Supreme Court in the controversial Hookway bail JR case on behalf of Mr Hookway (led by Rabinder Singh QC) (which was overtaken by emergency legislation).

Private Law claims against the Police and Public Authorities

With nearly two decades of experience of criminal jury advocacy and an in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system, she is well-suited to appearing in contested trials (both judge-only and jury)  in this area. She regularly advises and appears in relation to damages claims against the police and other public authorities, such as the Home Office and the prison service / Ministry of Justice (as well as G4S and Serco), in particular in relation to false imprisonment / unlawful detention / Article 5 ECHR claims, assault, malicious prosecution, misfeasance and trespass/ Keegan type Article 8 ECHR claims as well as breaches of Articles 10 and 11 in the context of protest cases. She also regularly advises in the complex area of negligence claims against the police and the prison service/ probation service/ MOJ/ G4S/ Serco. In the context of miscarriages of justice, she has advised on a number of civil claims against HMRC for misfeasance and breach of Article 6 ECHR following successful CCRC referrals, as well as statutory compensation claims. She also brings civil claims on behalf of victims of trafficking for breaches of Articles 3 and 4 ECHR investigative obligations.

Inquests and Inquiries

Maya’s first involvement in a public inquiry was as junior counsel for the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in the 1998 Macpherson Inquiry (the landmark inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence). In particular, she wrote the closing submissions on the issue of institutional racism. She currently acts for the whistleblower and former police officer, Peter Francis, who has exposed some of the activities of the Special Demonstration Squad (including in relation to the Lawrence family) in the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. The inquiry will be scrutinising the actions of undercover police officers that permeated hundreds of political groups during the past five decades.  Further details are available here: Undercover Policing Inquiry.

She was instructed as sole junior counsel (led by Ben Emmerson QC) in the extremely controversial inquest into the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, on behalf of his widow Marina Litvinenko and their son Anatoly, for over a year and a half, and before it was converted into a public inquiry. She is also instructed on behalf of Marina and Anatoly Litvinenko in their claims for damages for breaches of Article 2 and 3 of the ECHR by the Russian State in the European Court of Human Rights .

She was instructed in the Jacintha Saldanha inquest, on behalf of Southern Cross Media Group, who own the radio station that made the “prank” call to the hospital in which the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient.

She has appeared on behalf of bereaved families in a number of death in custody inquests (in particular prison suicides) as well as in deaths on the railway. She also advises families on claims for damages flowing from deaths in custody.

Prison Law

Maya has a wealth of experience in the prison law context bringing judicial review challenges (often combined with Human Rights Act damages claims) to: recall, sentence (mis)calculation, licence conditions, prison conditions, security (re)categorisation, searches, discipline, HDC refusal, the treatment of foreign national prisoners, refusal of a place in a Mother & Baby Unit; Parole Board decisions as well as other human rights and discrimination challenges. She regularly advises on civil damages claims for unlawful detention arising out of sentence miscalculation or wrongful recall. She also advises on repatriation.

Civil Orders

She has a specialist knowledge of (the very recently abolished) ASBO  regime; s. 222 of the LGA 1972 injunctions and other civil (quasi-criminal) orders imposed in the criminal courts (e.g.: premises closure orders, violent offender orders and serious crime prevention orders). She is the author of “ASBOS: A Practitioner’s Guide to Defending Anti-Social Behaviour Orders” (LAG, September 2006). The book was reviewed by Dr Dawn Stephen of the University of Brighton (amongst others).

Maya’s case of Birmingham City Council v Shafi (see cases listed below) had far reaching consequences and resulted in reactive legislation being passed to create anti-gang injunctions (‘GANGBOs’) in the county court. She has since appeared in the county court in a number of youth “GANGBO” cases. She has recently delivered training on the new incarnation of the ASBO, namely the anti-social behaviour injunction.

She gave expert evidence to Parliament on the proposed civil orders in the Modern Slavery Bill (now an Act).

Crime, Extradition & International Law

Over the years she has had a busy and challenging Crown Court practice. She has, for example, been a junior in over 20 murder trials, as well as been sole counsel in numerous, serious and complex cases, dealing in particular with child defendants and child witnesses. She has also had a long history of representing protestors and those charged with public order offences, often from black communities, as well as children and young people charged with serious crime. However she now focusses her practice on appellate crime – in particular CCRC appeals; victims of trafficking cases; all cases involving juvenile defendants and complex sentence cases. She has particular expertise of vulnerable young people and fitness to plead and effective participation hearings (i.e. compliance with Art 6(1) ECHR), in particular the learning disabled and those with neurodevelopmental autism spectrum disorders. She has appeared in a large number of fitness to plead hearings (despite how rare they are), including trials as to the acts. She wrote the material on this issue for the Prison Reform Trust/ Just for Kids Law nationwide training programme as part of PRT’s “Out of Trouble” Campaign in 2010.

She is committed to pro bono work and continues to represent those convicted of capital offences in the Caribbean before the Privy Council. She is committed to the world-wide abolition of the death penalty.

For many years she has had both an academic interest in extradition law as well as appeared on behalf of numerous defendants both at first instance and in the High Court, under both the 1989 and 2003 Extradition Acts. She is  keen to expand this area of her work.

In the recent past she was instructed as the UK expert to work on the reform of the Russian criminal and civil appeals system as part of a comparative law project funded by the Council of Europe / EU. This report is now completed.


Maya spent five years in the voluntary sector working in refuges with women and children fleeing domestic violence and sexual abuse before turning to the law. She spent a significant period of time employed by a leading firm of criminal solicitors before embarking on crime and human rights pupillages at Two Garden Court and Doughty Street Chambers (first and second six respectively).

She was one of three finalists in the category ‘Legal Aid Barrister of the Year in the 2008 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) Awards, nominated for her work in the youth justice system.

Publications and Training

Maya was recently granted a part-time Research Fellowship by the Griffins Society (whose focus is women and girls in the criminal justice system) in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, Institute of Criminology. Her research on the accessibility of Mother and Baby Units (MBUs), ‘Lost Spaces: Is the current procedure for women prisoners to gain a place in a prison MBU fair and accessible?’, was published in March 2017.

In 2014 Maya  joined the team of editors of the seminal criminal text book Archbold: Criminal Pleading, Evidence & Practice (Sweet & Maxwell) and contributes to three chapters. Prior to that and for many years she was a contributing author to Blackstone’s Criminal Practice (OUP) for which she wrote  four chapters . She is the General Editor of ‘Blackstone’s Guide to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008′ (OUP, 2009). She is the author of ‘ASBOs: A practitioner’s guide to defending anti-social behaviour orders’ (LAG, 2006).

She has published articles in legal journals including Archbold News (on the European Arrest Warrant and the Extradition Act 2003; Special Measures and the challenge to automatic eligibility; the bad character provisions under the CJA 2003; the ramifications of the Hookway bail case; the Twitter case).

She has also published numerous articles on the topic of anti-social behaviour and the law including a regular column on Civil Orders in the Criminal Courts for the LAG journal and has lectured widely on the subject. In an early article Striking the right balance, Maya outlined how the operation of ASBOs should serve as a warning about the consequences of the unfettered use of other civil orders.

Over the years she has spoken at legal conferences for numerous conference providers on a range of topics (for e.g; ‘Judicial Review and the Rule of Law‘ (British Council, Hong Kong, (2004); ‘Hate Crime’ (Bar Conference (2008)), ‘Human Rights and peaceful protest ‘(Butterworth’s conference on Civil Actions Against the Police (2011)).

Notable and Reported Cases

More Recent Cases

PD (by her mother and LF, ZD) v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and Just For Kids Law & CRAE (Interveners) [2015] EWCA Civ 114 (Although the failure to apply it on the particular facts was found not to be a breach of Article 8, Maya successfully argued that Annex A of Code C of PACE (strip searches) applies to the (forcible or otherwise) removal of clothing of suspects in police custody pursuant to s. 54 of PACE (clothes removed for own safety). The police argued that such a removal was not a strip search and thus the protections of Annex A did not apply – in this case to a 14 year old girl in their custody with documented mental health needs). More information can be found in this post on the UK Human Rights Blog.

R v Y [2015] EWCA Crim 123 (The Court of Appeal, in setting aside her conviction many years out of time, accepted that this young woman was a trafficked victim who should have had the protection of Article 26 (non-punishment provisions) of the Council of Europe Convention Against Trafficking in Human Beings 2005. Y was assisted by the Poppy Project, the Helen Bamber Foundation and Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA). One expert wrote  “Ms Y is one of the most traumatised young women I have assessed at the Helen Bamber Foundation”. )

R (on the application of WB) (2) W (A Child By His Litigation Friend the OS) v SSJ [2014] EWHC  1696 (Admin) (Successful judicial review of a prison’s refusal of a place in a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) to a pregnant prisoner. The baby was taken from her at birth. Her challenge was brought on three bases, the main one being that her procedural rights under Article 8 ECHR had been breached. The High Court made a declaratory order that her and W’s Article 8 rights had been breached and a mandatory order that the MBU Board retake the decision. The fresh Board offered WB a place and ultimately the MOJ paid out significant HRA damages).

R (Colefax) v the First Tier Tribunal & CICA  [2014] EWCA Civ 945 ( This case involved the novel question of the circumstances in which time limits can be waived in relation to latent injuries inflicted at the same time as patent injuries, where no in-time claim was made for the patent injuries)

White v Governor of Brixton Prison [2015] EWHC 1886 (Admin) (successful habeas corpus application; the Claimant was transferred to hospital from the cells despite being remanded in custody by the court; the issue was whether the remand time counted against his eventual sentence; the Sentence Calculation Policy Lead at the MOJ insisted it did not, the High Court found that this administrative transfer without legal sanction did not have the effect of taking the Claimant out of the scope of section 240ZA as interpreted by the section 242 of the CJA 2003 Act and the time did count).

R (Hoffman) v Parole Board & SSJ [2015] EWHC 2519 (Admin) (successful judicial review of Parole Board’s decision to refuse to recommend open conditions for a recalled, tariff expired indeterminate sentenced prisoner; the High Court found that there was a failure to carry out the correct balancing exercise; decision quashed and sent back to the Parole Board for reconsideration).

Older Cases

Maya began her legal career as junior counsel for the CRE in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry [1998]

R v Horseferry Road Magistrates’ Court ex p. Rugless [2000] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 484, DC (successful judicial review: committal for sentence, breach of legitimate expectation)

Jonathan Brady v Customs & Excise [2001] EWHC Admin 422 7/6/01 (habeas corpus: alleged drug “swallower”, legality of continued detention by C & E, compatibility with Art. 5 and Art.3 of the ECHR)

Information Commissioner v Islington Borough Council [2002] EWHC 1036 Admin (case stated: requisite mens rea in the Data Protection Act) (led by Owen Davies QC)

Daly v Governor HM Brixton Prison & Anor[2003], EWHC 1838 Admin(successful habeas corpus: extradition, delay)

R (B) v Balham Youth Court [2004] EWHC 421 Admin (judicial review; successful challenge to youth court mode of trial procedure and decision)

R (W) v Brent Youth Court [2006] EWHC 95 (Admin) (judicial review; succesful challenge to mode of trial decision)

Keegan v UK (Application no. 28867/03) [2007] 44 EHRR 33 (Violations of Art. 8 and Art. 13 during a police search of a family home; just satisfaction awarded)(led by Stephen Simblet).

R v Jones and Others [2006] EWCA Crim 2942 (successful appeal against 10 demonstrators’ ASBOs)

Rabess v The Commissioner for Police for the Metropolis [2007] EWHC 208 (Admin) (case stated: challenge to the terms of an ASBO imposed on a warring couple)

Leeds City Council v RG (2007) 4 All ER 652; (2007) 1 WLR 3025; [2007] EWHC 1612(Admin) (case stated; whether the power to vary an ASBO includes the power to extend its duration)

Steele v DPP [2008] EWHC 438 (Admin) (case stated; animal rights protestor who posted an image of a security guard on a website and later removed it; the question for the court was whether it was legitimate to prosecute him for causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress in the circumstances)

R (D) v Sheffield Youth Court [2008] EWHC 601 (Admin) (successful judicial review of a youth court’s decision to re-open the question of jurisdiction; the failure of the adult magistrates’ court to consider venue before the entering of a plea did not render its subsequent decision to remit the case for summary trial in a youth court invalid; s142 of the MCA 1980 could not be used to vacate an unequivocal guilty plea)

R v Altaf Hussain [2008] EWCA Crim 1518 (CCRC referral to the C of A in which a 1988 conviction for conspiracy to import heroin from Pakistan was quashed; this was the first conviction obtained by the [now controversial] use by British Customs of Pakistani participating informants in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s)

R (Smith) v Snaresbrook Crown Court [2008] EWHC 1282 (Admin); (2009) 1 All ER 547; (2009) 1 WLR 2024 (judicial review; challenge to the statutory interpretation of the test for the extension of “crack house” closure orders) (led by Jan Luba QC).

Birmingham City Council v Shafi & Ellis[2008] EWCA Civ 1186; (2009) 1 WLR 1961; (2009) 3 All ER 127; (2009) HLR 25; (2009) BLGR 367 (successfully defended appeal to Court of Appeal (Civ Division) on behalf of the First Respondent Shafi, arguing that the Council should not use s 222 of the Local Government Act 1972 to obtain injunctions against alleged gang members when there was an alternative statutory route available under the ASBO legislation.

R v Sultan Shah [2010] EWCA Crim 2326 ( the last in a series of CCRC referrals involving both non-disclosure of material evidence and malpractice by British Customs Officers in their deployment of participating informants in Pakistan to infiltrate the drugs trade between Britain and Pakistan in the late 80s and early 90s – see R v Altaf Hussain above. Shah’s 1994 conviction was quashed on the basis of gross prosecutorial misconduct).

R (Sands) v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2010] EWHC 2698 (Admin) (judicial review; successful challenge to a police decision to prevent the Claimant working on police contracts because of alleged criminality; the Admin Court found the decision to be an unreasonable application of the police’s vetting policy).

R (A) v Lewisham Youth Court & DPP [2011] EWHC 1193 (Admin.) (successful judicial review of the Youth Court’s refusal to apply the CYPA 1969, s.23 remand regime to a 15 year old charged with murder. CAJA 2009, s.115 [removal of bail hearings from the magistrates’ court in murder cases] had not impliedly displaced s.23. Case/Issue held to be of general importance and of real concern to youth courts).

Tabeel Lewis (Appellant) v The State (Respondent) [2011] UKPC 15. (The PC considered the dififcult question of whether the trial judge had been wrong not to leave provocation to the jury in a capital case. In the end the Board did not interfere with that decision but went on to find that fresh psychiatric and psychological evidence should now be considered and the case has been remitted to the Court of Appeal in Trinidad & Tobago who will need to decide if there is now evidence of provocation fit for consideration by the jury – led by Owen Davies QC).

R v Jamie Hope [2012] EWCA Crim 1350 (out of time appeal against sentence which involved the passing of unlawful sentences on two occasions by a Recorder faced with what he described as a legislative quagmire)


Maya was a board member of the innovative charity Just for Kids Law for a number of years and is regularly instructed by them. She is also the mother of a very busy little boy. Maya is authorised to accept instructions via the Public Access Scheme.