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Helen Foot

Year of Call: 2008

"She is completely down to earth, client focused and with just the right amount of empathy."

Legal 500, 2020

"She puts forward complex arguments and wins cases unexpectedly."

Legal 500, 2018

"She sees things from the client's perspective."

Legal 500, 2019

"Her knowledge of immigration and asylum law is extensive, and her preparation excellent."

Legal 500, 2017


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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Helen is a public law barrister with expertise in asylum, immigration, human rights and nationality law. She is ranked in the Legal 500 for immigration. She is public access accredited and welcomes enquiries from individuals or organisations seeking advice or representation.

Immigration Law


Helen has a busy practice in the First-tier and Upper Tribunal in immigration, asylum and deportation appeals and cases involving EU free movement law. She specializes in complex protection claims on behalf of victims of trafficking, LGBTI refugees and those fleeing gender-specific persecution.

Her public law practice includes challenges relating to immigration detention, removal and deportation, certification of human rights and protection claims and decisions under the National Referral Mechanism. She is experienced with urgent injunctions to prevent removal or deportation and is happy to be instructed at short notice.

Helen also acts in civil claims against public authorities in the immigration context. She was recently instructed in a claim under the Human Rights Act 1998 against the police and Home Office on behalf of a former victim of trafficking.

Notable Cases

KO (Nigeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department UKSC 2016/0107
When considering whether the effect of deportation on a qualifying child is 'unduly harsh' within the meaning of section117C(5) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, whether the court should take into account wider public interest considerations, or focus on the child only. Heard in the Supreme Court on 17 and 19 April 20178; judgment pending.

R (VRB) v Secretary of State for the Home Department JR/3746/2017
Successful judicial review of a decision to refuse ILR to the applicant, a bisexual teenager and victim of child sexual exploitation. The decision was in breach of the Secretary of State's duties under section 55 of the Borders, Citizens and Immigration Act 2009 and unlawfully fettered her discretion to grant ILR outside the Rules.

R (Shoriful Islam) v Secretary of State for the Home Department JR/5121/27
Successful judicial review of a decision to certify a decision of the Secretary of State to certify the applicant's asylum claim pursuant to section 96 of the of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The applicant, a gay Bangladeshi national, claimed that the decision failed to follow the Secretary of State's policy and the principles established in A, B and C v Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie relating to delay in disclosure on the part of gay individuals claiming asylum.

Awuah and Others (No1) [2017] UKFTT 555; Awuah (No 2) HU/04300/2015
Guidance cases on costs in the First-tier Tribunal, concerning the meaning of 'unreasonable conduct' on the part of the Secretary of State for the purposes of Rule 9(2)(b) of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Rules 2014 (Awuah No. 2)

R (MA (Bangladesh)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department JR/2652/2015
Challenge to detention within the detained fast-track and attempted removal of claimant accepted for referral by the Helen Bamber Foundation as a potential victim of torture. Linked to JM and others CO/377/2015.

SE (Ireland) v Secretary of State for the Home Department C3/2011/1172.
Appeal concerning the UK's obligations under Zambrano to Irish citizen children who are settled in the UK and the prohibition on discrimination in Article 18 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Settled in appellant's favour. Led by Stephen Knafler QC.

R (Mustafa Abdul Hussein) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC1952 (Admin)
Successful judicial review of a decision to refuse to grant indefinite leave to remain to an Iraqi hijacker of a Sudanese airbus at Stansted airport in 1996, who was detained, tortured and sentenced to death under Saddam Hussein's regime. Led by David Jones. Reported in The Independent, The Evening Standard and The Telegraph.

EN (Serbia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 630.
Appeal concerning the meaning of 'particularly serious crime' in section 72 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and the requirements of Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention. Assisted Kathryn Cronin during pupillage.

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Helen represented the Appellants in the Supreme Court case of R (Hysaj and Others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKSC 82 and has expertise in representing individuals whose citizenship is subject to deprivation proceedings where fraud is alleged.

She regularly advises individuals on complex claims to British citizenship, naturalization applications and applications for registration on behalf of minors. She often advises individuals with ancestral links to the UK and is familiar with the independence legislation of several former British colonies.

Recent work includes a judicial review of a refusal to grant citizenship on grounds of failure to meet the 'good character' requirement, concerning the Secretary of State's refusal to disclose reasons on public interest grounds. Helen has also recently advised on a complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) concerning the discriminatory effect of Kenyan independence legislation on women's ability to transmit nationality to their children.

Notable Cases

R (Hysaj and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKSC 82
The Secretary of State conceded the Appellants' appeals. Her decisions to treat the Appellants' citizenship as a nullity were unlawful; the correct approach was to regard their citizenship as obtained as a result of fraud and therefore liable to deprivation. In giving judgment the Supreme Court overturned a long line of Court of Appeal authority concerning nullity where citizenship is obtained by impersonation.

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Administrative and Public Law

Helen's public law practice includes challenges relating to immigration detention, removal and deportation, certification of human rights and protection claims and decisions under the National Referral Mechanism. She is experienced with urgent injunctions to prevent removal or deportation and is happy to be instructed at short notice.

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Community Care Law

Helen advises and represents vulnerable adults and children in judicial reviews concerning duties under the Children Act 1989. She frequently acts in age assessment disputes and has expertise in cases involving an immigration crossover where the impact of community care proceedings on parallel immigration proceedings is in issue.

She was recently instructed in a judicial review concerning a hospital's refusal to provide emergency surgery to a 9 month old baby on the basis of her parents' eligibility for charges under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011.

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Helen has advised and represented clients subject to parallel asylum and extradition proceedings and has a particular interest in this crossover area.

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Pro Bono Work

Helen remains committed to pro bono work. She is a volunteer adviser at Haringay Migrants' Support Group and is regularly instructed by Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID).

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Helen became a tenant at Garden Court in October 2009 after completing pupillage under the supervision of Sonali Naik, Kathryn Cronin and Maya Sikand.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Helen worked for eight years as a television producer and broadcast journalist, producing documentaries and current affairs programmes.

During her legal training, Helen worked pro bono for the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) on behalf of LGBTI refugees. She volunteered at Solace Women's Aid in Camden, advising victims of domestic violence. She recently worked with Liberty on an intervention strategy concerning the control orders regime, and drafted Liberty's response to a parliamentary inquiry into unimplemented Strasbourg judgments.


Helen is an editor of the Butterworths Immigration Law Service and a contributing author of McDonald's Immigration Law and Practice (9th Edition) and Jackson's Immigration Law and Practice (5th Edition, forthcoming).


College Exhibition (University College Oxford, 1997)

Gibbs Prize in Philosophy (proxime accessit, University of Oxford,1998) for outstanding

performance in philosophy finals

CPE Prize (London Metropolitan University, 2007) for graduating top of year

Bedingfield Scholarship (Gray's Inn, 2007)

Arden Scholarship (Gray's Inn, 2008)

Latest News

Supreme Court: Parental misconduct irrelevant to 'unduly harsh' test

Garden Court's Ian Macdonald QC, Sonali Naik QC and Helen Foot were counsel for the appellant KO, instructed by Oluwole Osibona of Freemans Solicitors.

24 October 2018

Successful Judicial Review of refusal to grant indefinite leave to remain to vulnerable child

Garden Court's Helen Foot represented the applicant, instructed by Sophie Freeman of Coram Children's Legal Centre.

24 May 2018

Victory in 'Windrush' case

Garden Court's Helen Foot was instructed by Emma Terenius of Wilson Solicitors LLP. 

11 May 2018

Supreme Court allows nationality appeals

Counsel for the appellants were our Sonali Naik and Helen Foot, led by Stephen Knafler QC, Landmark Chambers.

21 December 2017

“It can be life-changing for refugee and migrant women to finally be believed, and to be granted safety.”

Immigration barrister Helen Foot describes the challenges facing her female clients and how, with her solicitors, she can help them access the legal protection they are entitled to.

10 March 2017

Supreme Court - Permission to appeal granted in nationality appeals

Sonali Naik and Helen Foot of Garden Court Chambers are acting on behalf of all three appellants.

1 March 2017

Garden Court and Stephanie Harrison QC shortlisted for Human Rights and Public Law awards

Garden Court has been shortlisted at the Chambers Bar Awards, whilst Stephanie and our Public Law Team are shortlisted at the Legal 500 Awards.

21 October 2016

Helen Foot returns to Garden Court Chambers

Garden Court is delighted to welcome Helen Foot back to Chambers. Helen returns from maternity leave to continue her practice in public, asylum and immigration law.

4 November 2014

Anti Squatting Law

160 lawyers signed a letter to the Guardian pointing out that the criminal trespass offence (s 144) was introduced on the basis of misinformation. The offence which deals with squatting in a residential building was introduced into the Legal Aid, Sentenci

27 March 2013

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  • BA (Oxon) Physics & Philosophy (First)
  • MA Gender Studies (Distinction)
  • CPE (Distinction)
  • BVC (Outstanding)

Professional Membership

  • Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA)
  • Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)
  • Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
  • Liberty
  • Amnesty International

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

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