Home > Tenants > Sonali Naik QC

Sonali Naik QC

  • Call: 1991
  • Silk: 2018
"Strong on all aspects of immigration law, elegant drafting and super confident on her feet."

Legal 500, 2019

"She is very good on unlawful detention cases, has lots of experience and gets good results." "She was really, really impressive in how she dealt with hostile questions."

Chambers UK



After being called to the Bar in 1991 Sonali worked in the NGO sector for 5 years. 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 the rights of individuals and those which establish principles of broader policy application are her primary focus. Through her practice and other activities, Sonali has been involved in speaking at public meetings and giving press and media commentary on the immigration debate. She is committed to lobbying for fair changes in the law and in contributing to an informed debate in the public and political arena.

Sonali has continued her involvement in the NGO sector and is a Board member of Liberty, a trustee of Freedom from Torture, a Council member of Justice, former Chair of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (“JCWI”) and now trustee of the Immigrants’ Aid Trust, as well as now a Patron of Clean Break Theatre Company working with women ex-offenders.


Sonali has been in practice at Garden Court Chambers since November 1998. She specialises in public law cases and in all aspects of immigration, asylum and nationality law. She has a significant Higher Courts practice. She is ranked for immigration in Chambers UK 2019.

Her two key public law cases this year are acting for the Intervenors Bail for Immigration Detainees (“BID”) in Kiarie and Byndloss [2017] 1 WLR in the Supreme Court and as leading counsel in the pending individual challenge to the operation of section 67 Immigration Act 2016 (“the Dubs amendment”).

In immigration, she has particular experience in cases outside the immigration rules involving policy considerations, and in ETS/TOIEC judicial review claims. She is now advising many individuals on strategy and remedies in light of the recently Court of Appeal judgment in Ahsan and others.

In Article 8 ECHR cases, Sonali has recently undertaken leading briefs in the Court of Appeal several deportation appeals, acts very regularly in judicial review claims, and also has appeared as leading counsel in a high profile exclusion case.

In asylum she is been heavily involved in high profile protection cases from Iraq and Afghanistan, most recently HN(Afghanistan) v SSHD [2016] EWCA 123. She has lead in a number of country guidance appeals including DRC and in the pending internal relocation case on Afghanistan and the forthcoming case on Iranian Kurds.

She has also worked extensively on the impact of the failure to trace the family members of minor Afghan asylum-seekers and the lawfulness of their return as young adults in such circumstances. She also has been involved in a number of judicial reviews concerned with Article 3/8 ECHR mental health cases (one stayed in the Court of Appeal behind the ‘health’ test cases) and also a high profile hunger-striker.

In nationality she is acting in a number of judicial review claims challenging the SSHD’s decisions to treat as a nullity British citizenship obtained by deception. The Supreme Court has now given judgment in the test case Hysaj v SSHD [2017] UKSC 1195 allowing the appeals by consent.  There is also satellite litigation arising from this particularly now in light of the provisions of new Immigration Act 2016. She has also been involved with challenges to the SSHD’s practice in relation to the registration of British citizen children, refusals of nationality on good character grounds in the High Court and in SIAC and as leading counsel in a test case on deprivation in the Upper Tribunal.

In unlawful detention Sonali is currently leading in the Court of Appeal on two test cases: one concerning the failure to provide bail accommodation and the other relating to re-detention of individuals whilst on bail granted by the FTT. She also is leading on a challenge in the High Court on a post-Hossain challenge to the Detained Asylum Casework (“DAC”) process guidance and the failure to conduct medical assessments in detention under rule 34/35 of the DSR. She also acts in a very complex challenge concerned with the detention of a mentally ill torture survivor dealt with in the Detained Fast-Track (“DFT”) before 2014.

Pending Cases

 Lucas v SSHD [2016] EWHC 1960 (Admin), [2016] 4 WLR 135, [2016] 4 WLR 135 – listed in the Court of Appeal April 2018

Whether when the Appellant was released on bail by the First-Tier Tribunal (“FTT”), the general powers in Paragraph 2(3) of Schedule 3 of the Immigration Act 1971 to detain persons subject to a deportation order could not be used by the SSHD to re-detain a person where a bail order was in force.

Recent Cases

R (Kiarie; Byndloss) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKSC 42; [2017] WLR 2380

In a landmark judgment of general application, the Supreme Court ruled that the certification of two human rights claims under section 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 was unlawful under Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights.  Sonali with Bijan Hoshi represented the First Intervener, Bail for Immigration Detainees, led by Michael Fordham QC.

OO (Nigeria) v SSHD [2017] EWCA Civ 338

Successful challenge to the lawfulness of the SSHD’s approach to the new power under section 94B Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to deport first, appeal later in cases involving children, whether the Court of Appeal in Kiarie and Byndloss properly considered the public interest in removal pending appeal in such cases

AB (Nigeria) AB (British citizenship: deprivation; Deliallisi considered) Nigeria [2016] UKUT 00451 (IAC)

Complex deprivation of nationality case on the test to be applied in such cases (foreseeability of the consequences of deprivation) where no simultaneous order for deportation made, whether a person retains ILR on deprivation of British citizenship. Sonali acted as leading counsel.

R (on the application of HN and SA) (AFGHANISTAN) v SSHD [2016] EWCA Civ 123
Sonali obtained three interim injunctions from the Court of Appeal preventing the removal of asylum seekers on charter flights to Afghanistan during the course of this protracted litigation, challenging decisions on fresh protection claims on the basis of risk of serious harm from indiscriminate violence and the safety and reasonableness of internal relocation to Kabul.

Hysaj v SSHD [2016] 1 WLR 673, [2016] Imm AR 329, [2015] WLR(D) 482, [2016] INLR 343, [2015] EWCA Civ 1195, [2016] WLR 673

Test case judicial review of the SSHD’s decision to treat British citizenship as a nullity rather than adopting statutory procedure on deprivation where obtained by fraud. Judgment from the Supreme Court expected shortly.

BM and Others (returnees – criminal and non-criminal) DRC CG [2015] 00293 (IAC) BM (DRC) CG and BM (false passport) DRC [2015] UKUT 00467 (IAC)
Lead counsel in a country guidance appeal in the Upper Tribunal on returns to the Democratic Republic of Congo for failed asylum seekers and those involved in political activity.

Hysaj v SSHD : [2015] CP Rep 17, [2015] 2 Costs LR 191, [2015] 1 WLR 2472, [2014] EWCA Civ 1633

The Court gave guidance following Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1537, [2014] 1 WLR 795 and Denton v T.H. White Ltd, Decadent Vapours Ltd v Bevan and Utilise T.D.S. Ltd v Davies [2014] EWCA Civ 906, [2014] 1 WLR 3926. Whether the approach to  extensions of time to lodge appellant’s notice is distinct from application for relief from sanctions and the line of authority in Sayers v Clarke Walker [2002] EWCA Civ 645, [2002] 1 WLR 3095 is wrong inter alia in light of the approach in UKPC decision in Attorney General of Trinidad & Tobago v Matthews [2011] UKPC 38.

HN v SSHD –  HN (Naturalisation : Substantive) [2015] UKSIAC SN_9_2014 (28 July 2015)

SIAC naturalisation refused on grounds of national security, first in series of test cases as to the application of SIAC rules to these naturalisation JR’s (private)

Linked to R v Ignaoua, HN and AA v SSHD [2014] EWHC 1382 (Admin)

Safi v SSHD [2015] EWHC 95 (Admin)

Consideration of the Court of Appeal in R (S, H and Q) [2009] EWCA Civ 142) in which SN acted as junior in 2009) in relation to claims to grant some form of relief not applicable at the time of the decision, but which was applicable at the time of some earlier legally flawed and unlawful decision.

BE v SSHD [2015] EWHC 905 (Admin)

Challenge to the SSHD’s decision to refuse to register minor as a British citizen under section 3(1) British Nationality Act 1981.

IM (Nigeria) v SSHD [2013] UKUT
Judicial Review of decision to certify as clearly unfounded a human rights claim re: Boko Haram claim.

Deliallisi [2013] UKUT 00439 (IAC)
British citizen: deprivation appeal: Scope

HF (Iraq) v SSHD [2013] EWCA Civ 1276; [2014] 1 WLR 1329
Iraq Country Guidance Appeal, the status of UNHCR guidelines.

EU (Afghanistan) v SSHD [2013] EWCA Civ 32
Corrective Relief for former Afghan children, family tracing. [Petition to UKSC stayed].

KA (Afghanistan) v SSHD [2012] EWCA Civ 1014 
Corrective Relief for former Afghan children, family tracing.

SG(Iraq) v SSHD [2012] EWCA Civ 940; [2013] 1 WLR 41 
Status of Country Guidance cases.

HM and others (Article 15(c ) Iraq CG [2012] UKUT 00409 (IAC) 
Iraq Country Guidance Appeal.

HM (Iraq) v SSHD [2011] EWCA Civ 1536
Procedural fairness, absence of ‘proper contradictor’ in CG cases.

SHQ v SSHD [2009] EWCA Civ 334
Procedural fairness and Rashid.

Beoku- Betts v SSHD [2008] UKHL; [2009] 1 AC 115 
Article 8 rights of non-appellant family members.

Abdi and Nadarajah (No.2) v SSHD [2005] EWCA Civ 1363 
Legitimate expectation and 3rd country family links policy.

Recent Recommendations

“I find her contributions and dedication excellent; she makes many strong contributions to the discussion.” 
Chambers UK 2019

“Strong on all aspects of immigration law, elegant drafting and super confident on her feet.”
Legal 500, 2019

“She is always someone we can rely on for difficult cases.” “She was really, really impressive in how she dealt with hostile questions.”
Chambers UK 2018

“She has excellent knowledge of deportation in the Article 8 ECHR context.”
Legal 500 2017

“Naik is technically very good and highly persuasive.” “She is able to master detail and break down concepts with ease.”
Chambers UK 2017

Elegant in her drafting and confident on her feet in difficult cases.
Legal 500 2016

“Well known for the work that she has done with Afghan nationals. She is proficient in cases outside the Immigration Rules and regularly undertakes immigration appeals and deportation proceedings.”
Chambers UK 2016

“She is very good on unlawful detention cases, has lots of experience and gets good results.” “Very knowledgeable – she is very good on her feet, and is not fazed by what is thrown at her.”
Chambers UK 2015

“Sonali Naik is highly rated by peers for her work on immigration and asylum matters, she is regularly instructed on judicial reviews and cases before the Court of Appeal. She has recently been involved in country guidance cases relating to Iraq and Afghanistan and is approachable and easy to work with.”
Chambers UK 2014

“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 UK 2013


Sonali regularly delivers specialist immigration training on the Article 8 ECHR and the various aspects of asylum and immigration law including for the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA).  Sonali was the consultant to the Project for the Registration of British Citizen Children (PRBCC) funded through the Strategic Legal Fund which resulted in the publication of their report in November 2014 and which led to several High Court judicial review cases arising from this research.

Sonali is regularly invited to contribute to seminars and conferences on human rights, immigration and asylum. She has 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’.


Sonali was interviewed by Lynn Townley, the new Chair of the Association of Women Barristers, for the September 2018 edition of Counsel Magazine. Read the article: ‘Not (yet) glass shattering‘ on their website.