Shu Shin Luh
“She will leave no stone unturned in fighting for her client.”
“A highly intelligent barrister with a really impressive approach to finding new ways to push the boundaries of the law.”
Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar Guide
Shu Shin is a public law practitioner focusing on the rights of children and vulnerable adults and others in need of services and support. Her core client group is the children, vulnerable adults and their family members but she also advises and represents a number of non-governmental organisations and public bodies. She is on the panel of counsel for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
In 2012, Shu Shin was awarded the Young Legal Aid Barrister of the Year award.
Shu Shin is ranked in the Chambers UK Bar Guide and Legal 500 in the areas of administrative and public law, civil liberties and human rights, community care and education. She has been described by solicitors and other barristers as:
- “Very clever and hardworking; she brings an innovative approach to difficult cases.” (Legal 500 2016, Civil Liberties and Human Rights)
- “She will not concede defeat while there is a glimmer of hope left.” (Legal 500 2016, Education)
- “She’s very engaged, organised, thorough and able to turn work around very quickly.” “She is determined, committed and a real fighter.” (Chambers UK 2016, Administrative and Public Law)
- “She’s got a lot of knowledge and works hard.” “She is very passionately committed to this area.” (Chambers UK 2016, Community Care)
- “She is very good, and great at turning things around very quickly. Her advice is always client-oriented and practical.” “Very approachable, she has excellent knowledge of SEN.” (Chambers UK 2016, Education)
- “She has fantastic attention to detail, and is quick to respond and to get work done.” (Legal 500 2015, Civil Liberties and Human Rights)
- “She will leave no stone unturned in fighting for her client.” (Legal 500 2015, Education)
- Shu Shin is “noted for her experience in matters relating to human trafficking.” “She really cares about the cases she does and always turns round work of a very high standard.” “She is industrious and intelligent, and will only get better and better.” (Chambers UK 2015, Administrative and Public Law)
- A “rising junior with a broad community care practice, who receives praise for her tenacious approach. She specialises in the overlap between children’s law and complex immigration matters.” “A highly intelligent barrister with a really impressive approach to finding new ways to push the boundaries of the law.” “Very knowledgeable and approachable, she gets good results and really cares about the outcome for the client.” (Chambers UK 2015 Community Care)
- “Experienced in education matters relating to public and community care law. She is particularly strong on cases concerning disabled children and SEN.” “Very committed and hard-working, she is always approachable and gives good practical advice.” (Chambers UK 2015, Education)
- “Dedicated and bright.” Legal 500 2014
- a talented junior who is recognised in community care for her work representing the rights of vulnerable children and adults. She is experienced in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, her practice mainly focuses on claimant work and includes cases with an immigration law element. “She’s an extremely gifted barrister, who is exceptionally clever and very quick. She’s also very tenacious, but the standout aspect for me is that she takes an overview of the law and sees how things fit together.” – Chambers UK 2014 (Community Care)
- “Very committed and hard-working, she’s always approachable and gives good practical advice. Shu Shin is “useful in cases with community care element,” and is “zealous and committed.” – Chambers UK 2014 (Education)
- specialises in public law cases concerning the rights of children and vulnerable adults. “She has a comprehensive knowledge of children’s rights law, and is very clever and able.” – Chambers UK 2014 (Adminstrative and Public Law)
- singled out for positive comment by a lot of interviewees. She is known for her particular expertise in age assessment, and is “able to get to grips with things amazingly quickly. She is astonishingly bright.” – Chambers UK 2013 (Administrative and Public Law)
- “exceptionally energetic and driven” and a rising star at Garden Court Chambers who “has appeared in many cases usually handled by those barristers well above her year of call.” She excels in those matters concerning the rights of children, and in A v Essex CC advised on the first test case regarding disabled children’s right of access to effective education under the ECHR. – Chambers UK 2013 (Community Care)
- having been “involved in some quite significant cases at an early stage in her career” and is recognised for her involvement in homelessness cases on behalf of children. “She is willing to take urgent cases and prioritise them – she’ll work long hours to make sure things happen.” – Chambers UK 2012 (Social Housing)
Her practice covers the full range of social welfare law, including community care (adult and children’s social care), mental health, housing and immigration and legal obligations arising in these areas in domestic, human rights and EU law.
Social welfare (Community Care / Housing / Education)
Shu Shin represents those who are most vulnerable, with complex needs, mental health difficulties or disabilities; are homeless, or are in or leaving custody. She also acts on behalf of victims of trafficking, unaccompanied and age-disputed migrant children. The challenges include failure to assess needs, provide support and accommodation and challenges to local authority and central government policies which pose barriers to access to services.
She is frequently instructed in complicated cross-jurisdictional cases in the Administrative Court and Court of Protection where the claim raises best interest issues relating to mentally incapacitated young people (16+) and adults. In recent years, she has also developed an expertise in representing mentally incapacitated adults , particularly those who are ready to be discharged from detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 and disputes over their care packages in the community and inter-authority disputes over funding as between local authorities as well as between local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.
Shu Shin regularly advises in disability discrimination-related and regulatory education matters. She was led junior in A v Essex CC  UKSC 33.
She also provides expert advice in immigration and family proceedings relating to public law, discrimination and community care matters.
Age Disputes, Trafficking and Immigration Law
Shu Shin is a committed advocate on behalf of migrant children and young people in the full range of judicial review challenges and parallel civil claims in respect of termination of support and accommodation under the Children Act 1989, age dispute, unlawful detention and removal of age-disputed children and failures of state authorities to protect victims of trafficking. Her track record of reported cases speak to her commitment. She was junior counsel in R(FZ) v LB of Croydon  EWCA Civ 59 which laid down the test for permission in an age dispute judicial review claim. She acted in SH (Afghanistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1284 which established the correct test for adjourning and removing asylum appeals from the Detained Fast Track based on fundamental principles of fairness. She was junior counsel in R (AA) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1383 and  UKSC 49 (having been the sole junior in the High Court) in respect of whether the detention of a child wrongly treated by the Secretary of State as an adult can sound in damages where the Secretary of State relied on a local authority assessment of age which is said to be lawful.
She has intervened on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in R v L and Ors  EWCA Crim 991, 4 linked criminal appeals against conviction in respect of victims of trafficking to establish the correct approach the court take toward child victims of trafficking who are prosecuted for crimes which are a manifestation of their exploitation.
She was junior counsel in the class action litigation which led to the suspension of the Detained Fast Track and the declaratory relief granted by the Court in respect of the unacceptable risk of unfairness caused to vulnerable or potentially vulnerable individuals, including victims of torture, trafficking and other forms of violence and ill-treatment.
Shu Shin advises regularly on public law challenges against prison authorities, probation and social services for failures in respect of planning for the release of vulnerable children and adults.
Civil Claims against Public Authorities
Arising out of her judicial review work, Shu Shin has developed an expertise in civil claims against public authorities in tort and for human rights breaches. She has been successful. both as a sole and led junior, in bringing claims in professional negligence challenging the conduct of social services, health, education, police and immigration authorities toward vulnerable adults and children. Arising from her work representing trafficked victims and age-disputed minors in community care matters, she also advises regularly on civil claims against public authorities in respect of damages arising from false imprisonment, wrongful prosecution and / or arrest, and failure to protect, particularly in respect of victims of trafficking.
Recent Notable Cases
Nzolameso v City of Westminster, Shelter Children’s Legal Service & anor intervening  UKSC 22: Represented the Intervener, Shelter Children’s Legal Service in submissions accepted by the Supreme Court as to the material relevance of section 11 Children Act 2004 and requirement of a best interests assessment in the determination of suitability of accommodation in a homelessness case. Supreme Court judgment is available online: Nzolameso v City of Westminster, Shelter Children’s Legal Service & anor intervening  UKSC 22
R (AA) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 49;  EWCA Civ 1383: Test case consider whether the detention of a child asylum seeker was in breach of the Secretary of State’s policy not to detain children. The Secretary of State detained the appellant on a mistaken belief that he was an adult when he was in fact a child. Case raising novel points of statutory construction and interplay between the Secretary of State’s power to detain and her duty to safeguard and promote the best interests of children. Supreme Court judgment is available online: R (AA) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 49;  EWCA Civ 1383.
A v Essex CC  UKSC 33: First test case on the meaning of Article 2 Protocol 1 right of access to effective education under the European Convention on Human Rights for disabled children. Has been involved as junior counsel in the matter since 1st instance, first as a pupil and then as a led junior in the Court of Appeal.
R v L and Ors  EWCA Crim 991: Criminal appeal judgment setting out important guidelines on the approach of the criminal courts to identifying victims of trafficking whose criminal liability is a manifestation of their exploitation. The judgment is available online: R v L and Ors  EWCA Crim 991.
R (FZ) v LB of Croydon  EWCA Civ 59: Guideline case on how the court and the local authority are to resolve age disputes. The Court of Appeal set out the correct approach at the permission stage of an age dispute judicial review claim and laid down clear guidelines on the fairness required in the local authority’s assessment of a putative child. The judgment is available online: R (FZ) v LB of Croydon  EWCA Civ 59.
R (RO) v East Riding of Yorkshire  EWCA Civ 196: A local authority is not entitled to terminate a duty under s20, Children Act 1989 and cease to look after a child under ss22 and 23, Children Act 1989 without an assessment of the child’s needs. In circumstances where the criteria under s20, Children Act 1989 remain met, the duty to accommodate continues irrespective of a statement of special educational needs naming a residential school in Part IV. The Children Act 1989 has primacy over the Education Act 1996 where welfare provisions are concerned, and s22(3A), Children Act 1989 provides that the safeguarding welfare duty includes a duty to promote the educational achievement of a ‘looked after child’. The judgment is available online: R (RO) v East Riding of Yorkshire  EWCA Civ 196.
SH (Afghanistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1284: Guideline case establishing the correct test for adjourning and removing asylum appeals from the Detained Fast Track. Hearings held in the Detained Fast Track (DFT) must be adjourned, and if necessary, taken out of the DFT, in order to allow a party to answer the case against him by way of evidence unless it would be pointless to do so. The judgment is available online: SH (Afghanistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1284.
R (MVN) v LB of Greenwich  EWHC 1942 (Admin): Court found in favour of child victim of trafficking that he is the age claimed. Court gave guidance on the correct approach to assessing credibility in age assessment claims. The judgment is available online: R (MVN) v LB of Greenwich  EWHC 1942 (Admin).
R (A) v LB of Croydon  UKUT 168 (IAC): Court found in favour of child victim of trafficking who was subject to years of domestic slavery. Court declared that the child is the age she claims to be in a heavily contested claim lasting 6 days of oral evidence. The judgment is available online: R (A) v LB of Croydon  UKUT 168 (IAC).
R (Hunt) v LB of Hackney  EWHC 2510 (Admin): Interim injunction granted to prevent dispersal of a mother and baby out of London for provision of accommodation under section 17(6) Children Act 1989. Mandatory order granted to require local authority to reconsider level of support under section 17 to the mother and child.
R (PO) v LB of Newham  EWHC 2561: Successful judicial review challenging Newham’s policy on supporting families with no recourse to public funds. Policy quashed. More information can be found in the note of judgement and in the judgment: R (PO) v LB of Newham  EWHC 2561
VS v the Home Office  EWHC 2483 (QB): A migrant child’s immigration detention for two periods declared unlawful in breach of the Secretary of State’s policy and her obligations to safeguard the welfare of children. More information can be found on the Garden Court Chambers website and in the judgment: VS v the Home Office  EWHC 2483 (QB).
KS v Bradford MDC  EWHC 11 (Admin): Declaration that a local authority’s placement of a child with her maternal grandmother was a placement made under section 20, Children Act 1989 and she is entitled to ongoing support as a looked after child. More information can be found in the judgment: KS v Bradford MDC  EWHC 11 (Admin)
Durani v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 284 (Admin): Successful challenge to unlwaful detention of a child by the Secretary of State for the Home Department in exercise of immigration powers. The Court held that the SSHD was not entitled to rely on an age assessment which was not Merton-compliant to detain the Claimant as an adult. The judgment is available online: Durani v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 284 (Admin).
R (EAT) v LB of Newham  EWHC 344 (Admin): Successful claim challenging the Defendant’s refusal to provide the Claimant and her mother with support and accommodation under s17, Children Act 1989. The Court held that whether a person is an asylum-seeker depended on whether she ‘made’ a ‘claim for asylum’, which is to be afforded its natural meaning. The fact that the UK Border Agency treated a pending claim as an article 3 claim did not render it such a claim. The Claimant and her mother were found not to be asylum-seekers and they were declared to be eligible for support under s17, Children Act 1989. The judgment is available online: R (EAT) v LB of Newham  EWHC 344 (Admin).
R (YA) v LB of Hillingdon  EWHC 744 (Admin) and R (Y) v LB of Hillingdon  EWHC 1477 (Admin): First full substantive age dispute trial to succeed in obtaining a declaration in favour of the Claimant, a trafficked young woman, now 18, who had been subject to domestic slavery since the age of 6. In the linked case of YA (Nigeria), the High Court had to consider for the first time special measures for a trafficked victim giving evidence in the Administrative Court on the issue of her age. The Court set down guidelines for how to approach the question of special measures for children given evidence in age dispute trials. The judgment in Y is available online:  EWHC 1477 (Admin).
R (AM) v LB of Croydon  EWHC 6613 (Admin): The Court granted a declaration in favour of the Claimant child that he is the age he claims to be and granted a further declaration that he ought to have been so treated as a child from when he first presented to the local authority, and the duties owed to him as a child under the Children Act 1989 ought to have run from the time he first presented to the local authority.
R (KS) v LB of Croydon  EWHC 3391 (Admin): Three linked test cases on the LB of Croydon’s failure to educate three unaccompanied asylum seeking children who have been out of school for more than a year. On the correct test for suitable accommodation under s19, Education Act 1996.
Shu Shin regularly undertakes pro bono work in education, discrimination, community care, asylum support and social security matters. She is happy to accept pro-bono instructions in these areas.
Training / Advice
With several other members of Garden Court Chambers, Shu Shin edits and contributes to Garden Social, an information website which provides monthly updates on developments in social welfare law.
Shu Shin regularly provides in-house training on social welfare law, in particular on the Care Act 2014 and on the rights of migrant young people and trafficked victims to solicitors, law centres and charities across the country. Shu Shin also advises national and international charities on legal matters relating to the rights of migrant and refugee young people. She authored the chapter on “Best Practices in Age Dispute Challenges’ in the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association’s guide, Working with Refugee Children: Current Issues in Best Practice (published in 2012). She was a key contributor to the Children Commissioner’s report, The Fact of Age, (published in July 2012) which reviewed the Court’s approach to age assessment challenges in the UK post-Supreme Court judgment in A v Croydon. She provides training to advocacy groups, social workers and legal practitioners on the law in the areas of age disputes and trafficking.
She is a legal advisor to the Welsh Strategic Migration Partnership, a consortium of government and non-governmental bodies on migrant children’s issues and recently advised on the All Wales Practice Guidance on Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and Young People.
Shu Shin was born and raised in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Prior to coming to the Bar, she worked as a part-time campaign assistant on the China Team of Amnesty International, where she investigated links between trade and human rights in China. Prior to that, she was a journalist for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Sun-Times, writing extensively on issues ranging from consumer rights, immigration, crime and regional politics in Southeast Asia and China. She was a regular commentator on CNBC’s Squawk Box, and has appeared on CNN and National Public Radio (NPR). She won several awards for investigations into detention of children in asylum care in the US, deaths arising from officer-involved shootings and price-fixing among grocery conglomerates. Around Asia, she reported widely on labour and corporate management issues, particularly those involving major multinational clothing manufacturers’ dealings in alleged sweatshops in Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. In 2003, she published Business the Sony Way (John Wiley & Sons). In 2005, she published The People of China (Mason Crest Publishing) and The Economy of China (Mason Crest Publishing).