Emma Fitzsimons

Year of Call: 2011

"Extremely knowledgeable of asylum and immigration law and applies it clearly and succinctly to the case. Her advocacy style is clear and compelling."

Legal 500, 2024 (Immigration)

An amazing advocate with a clear and compelling style. She is very thorough, responsive and approachable.'

Legal 500, 2024 (Administrative Law & Human Rights)

"Great at drafting, very good under pressure and very willing to do urgent matters. She is friendly, approachable and easy to work with."

Chambers UK, 2024 (Immigration)

"Emma is an outstanding barrister. She is always well prepared and has exceptional understanding of the legal issues in often-complex asylum appeals, including children and Upper Tribunal error of law hearings."

Mark Shepherd, Director & Solicitor, Migrant Legal Project

"We have instructed Emma in a number international protection, human rights & public law claims. She combines a strong intellect, hard work and great determination. Emma is a pleasure to work with."

Ahmed Aydeed, Director of Public Law & Solicitor, Duncan Lewis Solicitors

"She's very easy to work with. Really competent and good with difficult clients."

Chambers UK, 2023

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To get in touch:​ Or you can contact the relevant​ Practice Team Clerks directly and they will be happy to assist with your enquiry.

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Emma Fitzsimons is a public law barrister, specialising in immigration, trafficking, community care, civil liberties and detention. She acts at all levels, including before SIAC and the ECtHR. She is ranked in Legal 500 (Administrative Law and Human Rights, and Immigration) and in Chambers & Partners (Immigration).

She regularly acts for vulnerable clients, including children, victims of trafficking, and persons lacking mental capacity. She also advises on strategic issues, including on recent legislative and policy changes to immigration law. She is a contributing author to Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Law and Practice and LAG Migrant Support Handbook.

Administrative and Public Law

Emma undertakes a broad range of public law work, in immigration, nationality, migrant support, trafficking, and unlawful detention. She is ranked in Legal 500 as a Leading Junior for Administrative and Public Law. In the last two years, Emma has been instructed in a number of cases involving claims by Afghan nationals and their family members seeking relocation to the UK.

Notable cases include:

  • R (S and AZ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWHC 1402 (Admin) and [2022] EWCA Civ 1092
    • Successful judicial review challenge on behalf of two Afghan judges seeking relocation to the UK.
  • R (SH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWHC 1937 (Admin) 
    • Successful judicial review on behalf of an Afghan journalist, seeking relocation to the UK.
  • R (JZ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] UKAITUR JR2022LON1012
    • Successful judicial review on behalf of an Afghan judge, challenging a refusal of Leave Outside the Rules.

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Immigration Law

Emma advises and represents on all areas of immigration law, with a focus on international protection and human rights law. She undertakes immigration and nationality related judicial review challenges, in the Upper Tribunal and High Court. In the past year, she has worked considerably on Afghan relocation cases, and challenges to Albanian certification claims.

She has particular experience representing children and young people, trafficking victims, persons with serious mental health diagnoses and those who lack mental capacity. She has a high rate of success before the First-tier and Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). She is a contributing author to Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice.

Recent cases include:

  • R (JZ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] UKAITUR JR2022LON1012
    • Successful judicial review on behalf of an Afghan judge, challenging a refusal of Leave Outside the Rules.
  • J (a child) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2022)
    • Successful settlement of an Afghan child’s appeal against the UT’s dismissal of his asylum appeal, following grant of permission by the Court of Appeal. On remittal, the Home Office granted refugee leave.
  • R (ROO (Nigeria)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 1295 (Admin)
    • Successful judicial review challenge to section 96 certificate and refusal of fresh claim of LGBT torture victim. Obtained urgent interim relief to prevent removal.

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Community Care Law

Emma advises on all aspects of migrant support, including judicial review challenges to asylum support and accommodation. Her clients include those facing street homelessness as well as for persons in immigration detention who require bail accommodation.

She also acts for victims of trafficking seeking access to support and recovery services, and access to suitable accommodation. She also undertakes age assessments, which is informed by her significant experience with working with trafficked and asylum-seeking children. She has secured positive results via settlement. She is a contributing author to Migrant Support Handbook (first edition, Legal Action Group, Luh & Johnston).

Recent cases include:

R (NVC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 3172 (Admin)
Successful interim relief application, challenging a Public Order Disqualification notice, and obtaining re-entry to MSVCC support, enabling release from detention to safe house accommodation.

R (AK) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2023)
Obtained urgent interim relief for asylum support accommodation to be provided to a destitute, vulnerable asylum seeker and victim of trafficking.

R (HIS) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2023)
Obtained urgent interim relief for section 98 asylum support accommodation to be provided to a destitute asylum seeker.

R (TC) v Lincolnshire County Council (2023)
Successful settlement of age assessment of challenge of a victim of trafficking.

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Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC)

Emma advises and represents individuals in appeals and reviews before SIAC, including serious organised crime and national security. Recently, she was instructed in D5, D6, D7 v SSHD SC/176-178/2020, the joined appeals against deprivation and review of exclusion from the UK of three individuals. The case is the first where SIAC has applied the Supreme Court’s judgment in Begum to the serious organised crime context.

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Claims Against Public Authorities

Emma advises and represents individuals in claims against public authorities, in particular claims arising out of immigration detention; failures to protect and unsuitable accommodation.

She has considerable unlawful detention challenges, both the public law elements (including securing interim release and bail accommodation) and the civil claims for false imprisonment and HRA claims. She has acted for victims of torture, victims of trafficking, and persons lacking mental capacity.

She is currently instructed in a number of ongoing claims, including:

  • Multi party litigation arising out of allocation to unsuitable asylum accommodation
  • Unsafe release from detention of a vulnerable victim of trafficking
  • False imprisonment and breach of confidence in asylum procedures

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International Human Rights

Emma has significant expertise in international human rights law. Academically, she focused on international human rights law as part of her Masters’ Degree. Before coming to the Bar, she worked in both the UK Parliament and at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she worked on draft legislation and human rights issues.

In practice, she has experience acting in applications and preparing interventions before the European Court of Human Rights. She was part of the counsel team instructed by the First Applicant in VCL and AN v United Kingdom (77587/12) [2021] 73 EHRR 9, a landmark case finding the UK had violated the Article 4 and 6 ECHR rights of a child victim of trafficking, by prosecuting him for cannabis cultivation offences.

She was instructed by JWCI in its intervention in Otite v United Kingdom (18339/19) concerning Article 8 in deportation. She is currently instructed in a pending intervention in respect of mentally disabled detainees in immigration detention.

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Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Emma has significant expertise advising and representing victims of trafficking. She was part of the legal team instructed in VCL and AN v United Kingdom (77587/12) [2021] 73 EHRR 9, a landmark case which found the UK had violated Article 4 and 6 ECHR by prosecuting a child victim of trafficking arising out of their exploitation.

She regularly obtains successful outcomes for victims, including overturning negative reasonable/conclusive grounds decisions, and securing access to recovery services and leave to remain. She has also secured substantial damages for trafficking victims in civil claims arising out of unlawful detention and failures to protect. She also has a busy practice representing trafficking victims before the Tribunal, in asylum, human rights and deportation appeals. She is a contributing author to Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Law and Practice (second edition, Bloomsbury Professional).

Notable cases include:

  • R (NVC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 3172 (Admin)
  • Successful interim relief application, challenging a Public Order Disqualification notice, and obtaining re-entry to MSVCC support, enabling release from detention to safe house accommodation.
  • R (JS and AH) v SSHD (2022)
    • Instructed as junior counsel in one of two linked judicial review claims, challenging the Home Secretary’s policy, Discretionary leave considerations for victims of modern slavery. Case successfully settled post-permission, with SSHD agreeing to withdraw the deportation orders, and granting both individuals leave to remain.
  • R (TVN) Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 3019 (Admin)
    • Acted in successful challenge to a negative Conclusive Grounds decision for a vulnerable victim of trafficking and torture, where the High Court gave helpful guidance on the treatment of lies and application of Lucas directions to trafficking decisions.
  • VCL and AN v United Kingdom (77587/12) [2021] 73 EHRR 9
    • Landmark case finding the UK had violated the Article 4 and 6 ECHR rights of a child victim of trafficking, by prosecuting him for cannabis cultivation offences.

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Pro Bono Work

Emma welcomes pro bono instructions. She acts for BID in immigration bail applications before the First-tier Tribunal, and has advised pro bono via the Bar Pro Unit. She also spent time volunteering in 2017 with the Refugee Legal Support Project in Athens.

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Notable Cases & News

Garden Court Chambers shortlisted for record-breaking fourteen awards at The Legal 500 Bar Awards

We are delighted to announce that Garden Court Chambers has been shortlisted in a record-breaking fourteen categories at The Legal 500 Bar Awards.

9 July 2024

Upper Tribunal allows judicial review of Afghan judges seeking leave to enter UK

Sonali Naik KC and Emma Fitzsimons were instructed by Rachael Lenney of Wilsons LLP on behalf of S. Irena Sabic KC and David Sellwood were instructed by Zoe Cooley of Wilsons LLP on behalf of AZ.

3 April 2024

Foreign Office grants Indefinite Leave to Remain to mother of British Embassy workers in Kabul and agrees to pay indemnity costs

Our Helen Foot and Emma Fitzsimons successfully represented the Claimants in R (AA and RA) v Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs AC-2023-LON-002498, instructed by Tori Sicher of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors.

29 February 2024

Seán Binder interviewed on his humanitarian work which nearly cost him his career in The Times and Law Society Gazette

Garden Court's client Seán Binder interviewed in The Times and the Law Society Gazette on his ordeal of nearly being denied entry to the legal profession due to his ongoing prosecution in Greece for his humanitarian work.

18 December 2023

Humanitarian Seán Binder cleared to continue his legal training despite controversial Greek prosecution

Gráinne Mellon and Emma Fitzsimons acted for Seán Binder in fitness to practice matters pro bono, also led by Edward Fitzgerald KC. They are instructed by Andrew Katzen, Hickman and Rose.

4 December 2023

Upper Tribunal quashes unlawful Secretary of State decision to refuse Afghan judge LOTR as it failed to consider contribution to rule of law

Sonali Naik KC, Irena Sabic KC and Emma Fitzsimons, of the Garden Court Chambers Immigration Team, were instructed by Rachael Lenney of Wilsons LLP.

22 June 2023

Court of Appeal dismisses Home Secretary’s appeal against High Court decision quashing UK Government refusal to consider relocation claims of two Afghan judges

Sonali Naik QC, Irena Sabic and Emma Fitzsimons acted for S, instructed by Wilson LLP Irena Sabic, David Sellwood and Maha Sardar acted for AZ, instructed by Wilson LLP.

5 August 2022

Garden Court Chambers jointly wins Highly Commended at The Lawyer Awards 2022 for Pro Bono Initiative of the Year supporting Afghan judiciary

We are proud to have received Highly Commended for The Lawyer Principal members of our Garden Court team involved in the initiative were Sonali Naik QC, Irena Sabic, Maha Sardar, Ali Bandegani, Emma Fitzsimons, Maria Moodie and David Sellwood.

13 July 2022

High Court grants the judicial review claims of two Afghan Judges against the Government’s refusal of their claims to relocate to the UK

High Court grants the judicial review claims of two Afghan Judges against the Government’s refusal of their claims to relocate to the UK.

9 June 2022

Garden Court Chambers shortlisted at The Lawyer Awards 2022 for Pro Bono initiative to support Afghan judiciary

3 May 2022

Victims of trafficking secure recognition of their trafficking status, revocation of deportation orders and granted leave to remain

Sonali Naik QC, Louise Hooper and Emma Fitzsimons of the Garden Court Public Law Team acted for the Claimants, instructed by Maria Thomas at Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

10 February 2022

The Nationality and Borders Bill - Legal Opinion prepared by Garden Court Barristers for Women for Refugee Women

In legal advice prepared for the charity Women for Refugee Women, Stephanie Harrison QC, Emma Fitzsimons, Ubah Dirie & Hannah Lynes of Garden Court Chambers state the Nationality & Borders Bill will “disproportionately adversely disadvantage women & girls

25 November 2021

High Court quashes negative Conclusive Grounds decision unlawfully rejecting a trafficking victim’s claim

Emma Fitzsimons of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law Team acted for the Claimant, instructed by Shalini Patel of Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

11 November 2021

Garden Court Immigration Team dedicate 10th Edition of Macdonald's Immigration Law & Practice to the life and legacy of Ian Macdonald QC

The General Editors, Stephanie Harrison QC, Ronan Toal & Sadat Sayeed, are leaders in the field & practice in the number one ranked Garden Court Immigration Team. David Neale is a legal researcher & former barrister

25 June 2021

ECHR judgment finds failure to adequately protect potential victims of child trafficking

Henry Blaxland QC, Emma Fitzsimons and Stephen Clark of Garden Court Chambers represented the claimant, VCL. Michelle Brewer, a former tenant of Garden Court also represented VCL.

16 February 2021

Measuring up? Evaluating the UK’s performance against the promises of the 1951 Refugee Convention - #RefugeeWeek2020

Ubah Dirie and Emma Fitzsimons of the Garden Court Immigration Team.

15 June 2020

COVID-19: Implications for Statutory appeals in the First-tier and Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)

By Emma Fitzsimons of the Garden Court Immigration Team.

11 June 2020

COVID-19 - Why the modest relaxation of the ‘hostile environment’ does not go far enough

By Emma Fitzsimons of the Garden Court Chambers Immigration Team.

16 May 2020

COVID-19 - Why the modest relaxation of the ‘hostile environment’ does not go far enough

By Emma Fitzsimons of the Garden Court Chambers Immigration Team.

16 May 2020

High Court quashes Secretary of State’s decisions to certify asylum claim and reject further submissions of LGBT torture victim

Garden Court’s Sonali Naik QC and Emma Fitzsimons represented the claimant, instructed by Sulaiha Ali of Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

5 June 2018

Will Brexit weaken the enforcement of fundamental rights in the UK?

Emma Fitzsimons of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law and Immigration Team has published an article for LexisNexis.

15 February 2018

"On March 8th, I will think of the refugee and migrant women, whom it is a privilege to represent"

Emma Fitzsimons reflects on the refugee clients who inspire her and the barriers that remain.

6 March 2017

All related news

Background

Before coming to the Bar, Emma worked at the House of Commons as a legal specialist, advising select committees during their legislative inquiries. She authored five Parliamentary reports, and assisted the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its 2010/11 Report on the UK's Compliance with decisions of the ECtHR.

Whilst at the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit, she was seconded to the Office of Speaker's Counsel. She advised on parliamentary privilege, contract, crime, employment and tort law, and had responsibility for the handling of employment law litigation.

Emma also completed an internship in the Legal Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, during which she worked on an international agreement between the UK and Ireland, ECtHR cases, Ireland's compliance with international humanitarian law and law of the sea. She also undertook extensive work on the preparation of a draft bill, implementing the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Publications

Contributing Author, Macdonald's Immigration Law and Practice, 10th Edition.

Lexis Nexis PSL Note, 'Will Brexit Weaken the enforcement of fundamental rights in the UK?' 15 November 2018

Contributing Author, Friends of the Earth Environmental Impact Assessment and Case Law Update (2017)

YLAL News Item, 'Justice Denied - TUC Report finds women and children have been disproportionately affected by the devastating impact of LASPO', 2016 available at:

YLAL News Item, 'Amnesty International say legal aid cuts have created two-tier justice that leaves the poorest and most vulnerable out in the cold'

'A Recipe for Disaster? When Religious Rights and Equality Collide through the Prism of the Ashers Bakery Case', Hibernian Law Journal, 2016

'Rage Against the Machine', Counsel Magazine, 2016

'O Mother, where art thou?' Case Comment: M.R. v An tArd-Chláraitheoir, Kings Inn Law Review, 2016

'Behind Closed Doors? Justifying what's off limits online: The EU's Right to Be Forgotten', ELSA Student Journal of European Law, 2014

Report of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, The Government's Lobbying Bill, 2013

Report of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, The Impact of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, 2013

Report of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee, Draft Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2013

Report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Defamation Bill, 2012

Report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Enhanced Terrorism Prevention Measures Bill, 2012

Training and Seminars

ILPA Training, Good Practice in Working with Unaccompanied Children (UPRIGHTS project) - July 2018

Seminar: Remedies For Points based System Problems, Article 8 and Private Life Claims - May 2018

Roundtable Discussion with Privacy International: Data Sharing Between Public Bodies - Tools of a Hostile Environment - April 2018

Awards

Bar Council Law Reform Essay Prize 2015
Finalist, European Court of Human Rights Mooting Competition 2014
Dean's Roll of Honour, Trinity College Dublin 2014
Asbury Scholarship, Middle Temple 2010
McFarlow Bursary, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge 2009
Winner, Lovells Land Law Moot 2008

Education

  • LLM, Trinity College Dublin, First Class Honours with Distinction (First Place in the Year), 2014
  • BPTC, City Law School, Very Competent, 2011
  • MA (Hons) Law, University of Cambridge, 2010

Professional Membership

  • Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)
  • Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA)
  • London Irish Lawyers Association (LILA)

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

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