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Sonali Naik QC

Year of Call: 1991 | Year of Silk: 2018

"Excellent knowledge of all aspects of immigration."

Legal 500, 2020

"She's so clear-headed, it's refreshing; she sees straight through to the point. I've been incredibly impressed by her written work and her determination to get the case as far as we can go with it." "Her communication is really good, and she is very efficient and will respond regardless of how busy she is."

Chambers UK, 2020

"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


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Sonali Naik QC 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 2020.

Sonali is a senior public law and immigration practitioner with over 28 years’ experience. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2018 and conducts almost exclusively leading work at all levels: the Court of Appeal, the Administrative Court and in the Upper Tribunal in statutory appeals and judicial reviews. She has very substantial immigration and asylum experience in her High Court and appellate court practice, acting in various country guidance asylum cases most recently in AS(Afghanistan) in the Court of Appeal, the latest leading case on internal relocation.

Sonali has an extensive judicial review practice in the areas of Article 8 ECHR certification, nationality, challenges to Home Office policy, trafficking and unlawful detention.

Currently she is acting in the test case of Watson v SSHD on the implementation of out of country appeals in the Upper Tribunal, (the only case where an Appellant has successfully persuaded a  Court to order a person’s return to pursue their appeal previously certified under section 94B in-country), in the Court of Appeal challenging ‘no notice’ removals in FB v SSHD listed before the Lord Chief Justice in July 2020 (linked with appeal in Medical Justice v SSHD [2019] EWHC (Admin) with EHRC intervening).

Sonali appeared on her feet for the first time in the Supreme Court in KO(Nigeria) v SSHD [2018] 1 WLR 5273 on the test case on the proper interpretation of ‘unduly harsh’ with regard to children’s best interests’ in deportation appeals.

Following the successful appeal in Hysaj in the Supreme Court in long-running appeals on the purported nullification of British nationality, Sonali is advising on and acting in a number of deprivation cases including the test case of Hysaj (No.2) in the Upper Tribunal before the President.  

Her work has been, to date, predominantly publicly funded high profile cases. Sonali also does a significant amount of private immigration advisory work.

Sonali is Chair of Liberty and a trustee of Freedom From Torture and the Immigrant’s Aid Trust (charitable arm of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) and was appointed to the Justice Working Group on Reform of Immigration and Asylum system led by Sir Ross Cranston. She is also a long-standing Patron of Clean Break Theatre Company.

She won Lawyer of the Year at the Diversity Legal Awards 2018. She won Highly Commended for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion at the Chambers Bar Awards 2019. She was a finalist for Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in 2016 and was featured as The Times’ Lawyer of the Week in January 2018.

Immigration and Asylum

Sonali has a long record of acting for asylum-seekers and refugees at all levels.  Over the last few years she has acted in the leading cases on the assessment of safety and reasonableness of returns to Afghanistan.

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 (R (on the application of HN and SA) (AFGHANISTAN) v SSHD [2016] EWCA Civ 123).

She acted in the Court of Appeal in a preliminary issue hearing against the decision of the Upper Tribunal (in which she acted as leader) in a Country Guidance case about the return of Afghan nationals to Kabul – AS (Safety of Kabul) Afghanistan [2018] UKUT 0018 (IAC) raising a procedural fairness question about the circumstances in which the Tribunal can correct errors in the reasons which it gives for its decisions, as contended for the SSHD, AS Afghanistan v SSHD (part 1) [2019] 1 WLR 3065.

Sonali then acted in the substantive Court of Appeal case. This was is test case country guidance appeal on the reasonableness of internal relocation for asylum-seekers on return to Afghanistan. The main issue in the appeal was the interpretation of the ‘significant minority’ test from Lord Brown’s judgment in AH(Sudan) [2007] and whether the UT erred in law in their assessment of risk of serious harm in their interpretation of reasonableness. The Appellants succeeded on their interpretation and the appeal was remitted in light of the material mistake of fact by the Tribunal. AS(Afghanistan) v SSHD [2019] 1 WLR 5345.

Sonali has acted regularly as leading counsel in other Country Guidance appeals including HB (Kurds) Iran (illegal exit: failed asylum seeker) CG [2018] UKUT 430 (IAC) (12 December 2018), 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). Pre-silk she was also led by Mike Fordham QC in HM(Iraq) v SSHD [2011] EWCA Civ 1536, HM and others (Article 15c) (Iraq) v SSHD [2012] UKUT 409 (IAC) and the ensuing Court of Appeal case of HF(Iraq) v SSHD [2014] 1 WLR 1329.

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Immigration and Human Rights

In immigration, Sonali 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 Court of Appeal judgments in Ahsan and others and Balajigari v SSHD [2019] 1 WLR 4647.

Sonali was instructed by the Migrants Rights Network (MRN) to intervene in Balajigari in the Court of Appeal. The cases concerned the lawfulness of the use by the SSHD of the 322(5) rule to refuse indefinite leave to remain to those who had made tax amendments with HMRC. MRN had a group of 400 persons affected, whose interests were at stake in these appeals.  Sonali advised on strategy and evidence and made written submissions, though formal permission to intervene orally was refused. The judgment clearly reflects the arguments made as a central part of the reasoning. Sonali is now instructed by MRN in respect of a variety of consequential matters as to remedy and costs arising from the judgment.


Arising from the Ahsan litigation Sonali was instructed to lead in the test case of Rahman v SSHD [2018] EWCA 1572 addressing the costs consequences for a large cohort of appellants concerning the remedies available to students whose leave had been curtailed by the SSHD following an allegation of deception in the ETS language testing. The question of remedy was partly resolved in Ahsan, which led to the question of disposal and costs.  Four cases were chosen, with a view to the CA giving guidance to enable many or all of the other cases to be disposed of by consent. The SSHD’s approach to the belated offer of a remedy of consideration of an article 8 ECHR claim and appeal, as opposed to a judicial review of the decision to curtail leave. The CA ordered the SSHD to pay the costs of the appeal in the judicial review, and directed that the UT deal with the question of the costs of the judicial review below, pending the outcome of any article 8 appeal and further settlement.


In Article 8 ECHR cases, Sonali appeared on her feet in the Supreme Court in KO(Nigeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) [2018] 1 WLR 5273 a test case on the proper interpretation of the reasonableness of removal of children from the UK and in the context of deportation whether that was ‘unduly harsh’ on the child and the meaning of that phrase within section 117 A to D of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

She is currently acting in a test case in the Upper Tribunal before the President on the status of foreign convictions for the purpose of the deportation regime.

Exclusion and SIAC

Sonali has acted as leading counsel in high profile exclusion cases (the details of which are confidential) but have for example involved complex hearings in the Administrative Court, including disclosure applications, PII applications and has appeared against senior government leading counsel.  

Out of Country Appeals

Sonali acted for the First Intervener, Bail for Immigration Detainees, led by Michael Fordham QC, in the landmark test case as to the lawfulness of the SSHD’s out of country appeals regime under section 94B of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 in R (Kiarie; Byndloss) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKSC 42; [2017] WLR 2380. 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 ECHR.  She also acted as leading counsel in OO(Nigeria) in the Court of Appeal one of the few cases to succeed outright in challenging a 94B certificate OO (Nigeria) v SSHD [2017] EWCA Civ 338.  This was a successful challenge to the lawfulness of the SSHD's approach to the power to deport first, appeal later, in cases involving children, where the Court considered the public interest in removal pending appeal in such cases.

Sonali is acting in a test case in an appeal (ZF v SSHD) where the Appellant is deceased (shot dead in Afghanistan by the Taliban whilst waiting for his appeal). Sonali is instructed by his widow and 4 minor British citizen children who are Human Rights Act ‘victims’. The first issue in the appeal is whether the appeal has been abated, the second part is whether if there is an appeal his removal breached article 3/8 ECHR.

She is also acting in another 94B test case of YT v SSHD another case where the Tribunal has determined that the Appellant cannot have a procedural fair out of country appeal (where the Appellant is outside his country of origin).

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Unlawful Detention

Sonali regularly acts in complex detention claims:

Sonali recently acted in the Court of Appeal concerned with the lawfulness of the SSHD’s policy concerning access to medical treatment in Short-Term Holding Facilities (prior to the STHF Rules 2018) (ZA v SSHD [2018] 4 WLR 34), following the partial victory in the Administrative Court on the failure to conduct a rule 34 Detention Centre Rules 2001 compliant assessments.

Sonali is acting in QH v SSHD in respect of a damages claim inter alia under the Human Rights Act 1998 for a former disputed minor who claim for unlawfully removed from the UK to Germany in breach of Article 27 of Dublin III was allowed. Having achieved his return to the UK under Article 29, this claim for damages now proceeds in the Upper Tribunal and is listed as a test case on engagement of Article 8 ECHR and damages.  

Sonali is currently acting in a challenge to the lawfulness of detention following the unlawful certification of a torture victim and certification of their asylum claim and whether the rule 35 process was compliant in ROO(Nigeria) v SSHD again following a partial success in the Administrative Court. This is a post-Hossain challenge to the Detained Asylum Casework ("DAC") process guidance and the failure to conduct a proper medical assessments in detention.

Sonali also currently 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 which was stayed behind the test case of TN(Vietnam).

Sonali led on a test case in the Court of Appeal one concerning damages arising from the unlawful failure to provide bail accommodation and the other relating to re-detention of individuals whilst on bail granted by the FTT. The issue was 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 used by the SSHD to re-detain a person where a bail order was in force (SSHD v Lucas [2018] EWCA Civ 2541).

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Sonali acts in high profile and complex nationality cases both judicial reviews and statutory appeal and undertakes a significant amount of advisory work.

In nationality following the long running nationality test case in Hysaj (from 2013 to 2017) challenging the SSHD's decisions to treat as a nullity British citizenship obtained by deception, culminating in the Supreme Court judgment Hysaj v SSHD [2017] UKSC 1195 allowing the appeals by consent,  Sonali  is now acting in a number of now statutory appeals challenging the ensuing deprivation decisions. She also advises and acts in judicial reviews in relation to refusals to issue or decisions to withdraw British passports, and other related satellite litigation arising from this litigation,  particularly now in light of the impact of the ‘hostile environment’ including immigration status on deprivation. 

Prior to Hysaj, Sonali had acted in the leading cases on deprivation in the Upper Tribunal : AB (Nigeria) AB (British citizenship: deprivation; Deliallisi considered) Nigeria [2016] UKUT 00451 (IAC) a 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,  and Deliallisi (British citizen: deprivation appeal: Scope) [2013] UKUT 439(IAC).

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 including BE v SSHD [2015] EWHC 905 (Admin) and in SIAC HN v SSHD - HN (Naturalisation : Substantive) [2015] UKSIAC SN_9_2014 (28 July 2015 (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).

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Public Law

Sonali is currently acting in a leading test case concerning  the lawfulness of the SSHD’s removal policy and specifically whether giving notice of liability only (and not notice of the date or time of the actual removal) is ultra vires section 10 of the Immigration Act 1999, because it abrogates the constitutional common law right of access to justice, breaches the public law duty to give adequate notice of a decision and/or is too uncertain and therefore arbitrary to be compliant with the rule of law and/or is a disproportionate means of achieving removal. (R (on the application of FB and another) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (removal window policy) [2018] UKUT 428 (IAC) The President of the Upper Tribunal (UT) held that the policy was lawful but granted permission to appeal (PTA) to the Court of Appeal (CA).  This is now linked to the case of Medical Justice v SSHD [2018] EWHC (Admin) 2391 to be heard in July 2020.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Sonali is a contributor to a leading text in the immigration field Macdonald's Immigration Law and Practice.

She has appeared in the media: TV, radio and press - writing articles in broadsheet newspapers and legal journals alike.

Sonali was interviewed for a feature article in The Guardian on the changing face of law (19 January 2018) and in September 2018 for Counsel Magazine's article, 'Not (yet) glass shattering' on the diversity, or lack thereof, among QCs in the UK.

Training and Seminars

Sonali is frequently invited to lead or contribute to seminars and conferences on human rights, immigration and asylum, and nationality, both on commercial immigration and most recently with UNHCR on Cessation of Refugee Status.

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).

She 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.


Latest News

New Afghanistan Country Guidance provides a clear pathway for asylum-seekers to win appeals

Sonali Naik QC, Ronan Toal and Gemma Loughran of the Garden Court Immigration Team represented the appellant, instructed by Kam Dhanjal of JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors.

7 May 2020

Sonali Naik QC wins Highly Commended Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion at Chambers Bar Awards 2019

We are delighted to announce that Sonali Naik QC of Garden Court Chambers won the Highly Commended Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion at the Chambers Bar Awards 2019.

1 November 2019

Sonali Naik QC and Ifeanyi Odogwu shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion at Chambers Bar Awards 2019

We are delighted to announce that Sonali Naik QC and Ifeanyi Odogwu of Garden Court Chambers have been shortlisted for their Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion at the Chambers Bar Awards 2019.

10 September 2019

Court of Appeal remit Upper Tribunal Country Guideline case on Afghanistan and provide guidance on correct approach to internal relocation

Sonali Naik QC, Ronan Toal and Gemma Loughran were instructed by JD Spicer on behalf of the appellant. Ali Bandegani was instructed by Baker McKenzie for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

28 May 2019

Upper Tribunal find the Home Office's amended removal window policy unlawful in key respects

Sonali Naik QC and Ali Bandegani are instructed by Duncan Lewis for the applicants. 

14 December 2018

Upper Tribunal rules Home Office’s removal of disputed minor to Germany unlawful and orders his return to UK

QH is represented by Sonali Naik QC and Greg Ó Ceallaigh of the Garden Court Chambers Immigration Team.

4 December 2018

Sonali Naik QC announced BSN Lawyer of the Year at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2018

Sonali became a QC in 2018 and is the newly appointed Chair of Liberty.

22 November 2018

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

Sonali Naik QC and Una Morris shortlisted at the UK Diversity Legal Awards 2018

We are delighted to announce that Sonali Naik QC and Una Morris have both been shortlisted at the UK Diversity Legal Awards 2018.

21 September 2018

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

Home Office amends Removals Policy in response to legal challenge

Garden Court's Sonali Naik QC and Ali Bandegani represented the applicant.

25 May 2018

Afghan child challenges Home Office on 'Dubs Amendment' at the High Court

Garden Court’s Sonali Naik QC, Bryony Poynor and Miranda Butler represent the claimant, instructed by Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

7 March 2018

Clare Wade, Sonali Naik, Amanda Weston and Brenda Campbell appointed Queen’s Counsel

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to congratulate our four new silks appointed as Queen's Counsel on 26 February 2018.

26 February 2018

Sonali Naik named Lawyer of the Week in the Times

Sonali Naik, who will be appointed Queen's Counsel in February, has been named Lawyer of the Week.

12 January 2018

Clare Wade, Sonali Naik, Amanda Weston and Brenda Campbell to be appointed Queen's Counsel

Clare Wade, Sonali Naik, Amanda Weston and Brenda Campbell will be appointed Queen's Counsel in February 2018.

21 December 2017

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

Supreme Court rules ‘deport first, appeal later’ system unlawful

Sonali Naik and Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court Chambers represented Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) as first Interveners.

14 June 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

Government reneges on commitment to bring vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children to the UK

Sonali Naik and Bryony Poynor of Garden Court Chambers represent child asylum seekers in legal action against Government.

29 December 2016

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

Sonali Naik and Tom Stoate shortlisted at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards

Sonali has been shortlisted for the Legal Aid Barrister Award Tom, for the Legal Aid Newcomer Award.

24 May 2016

Chambers UK Bar Guide ranks Garden Court in Band 1

Garden Court Chambers recognised as a leading set for immigration, social housing, civil liberties, police law, Court of Protection, crime and inquests and public inquiries.

30 October 2015

Unprecedented generic injunction from the Court of Appeal secured ahead of removal flight to Afghanistan

The Appellants, whose asylum claims had been refused, were represented by Sonali Naik, Louise Hooper, Ali Bandegani and Bryony Poynor of Garden Court Chambers.

25 August 2015

Legal Aid Agency forced to reconsider ‘exceptional case funding’ decision after vulnerable claimant’s human rights grounds ignored

Sonali Naik represented the claimant.

24 April 2015

Garden Court Chambers ranked Band 1 in Chambers UK 2014

We are once again delighted to have been ranked as a leading set by Chambers and Partners in the Chambers UK 2014 directory.

31 October 2013

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BA (Oxon) Jurisprudence

Inns of Court School of Law

Professional Membership

  • Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA)
  • Administrative Law Bar Association

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