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Stephen Clark

Year of Call: 2013

“Erudite submissions… considerable skill”

Judge

“I take this opportunity to thank his counsel, Mr Clark, for the careful and measured manner in which he sought to prosecute this appeal. His efforts, patience and diligence have, in my view, served the best traditions of the Bar well and indeed [his client]”

Judge

“A firecracker”

Lay Client

“Epitomises a number of key qualities at the Bar: fearlessness, mastery of detail and an ability to identify the essence of a legal issue and presentation skills that seem effortless, undoubtedly as his preparation is so extensive and targeted”

Solicitor Client

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Stephen specialises in complex, multi-disciplinary work which draws on the full range of his flourishing practice and with recent successes in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights. He works across a broad spectrum of practice areas from judicial review, immigration and asylum, inquests, actions against state authorities, prison law and community care.

Stephen has considerable experience dealing with cases involving mental capacity and complex, interlocking physical and mental health conditions ranging from Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, severe neurodisability and neurodegenerative conditions. He is able to cut through the factual and legal complexity to get to the heart of the issues and secure the best result for his client. Alongside his litigation experience, he is the author of The Reform of Civil Justice with Sir Rupert Jackson and able to help with complex civil procedure and costs issues.

Administrative and Public Law

Overview

Stephen’s public law practice is at the heart of his multi-disciplinary work, bringing tactical and strategic guidance to complex cases. He has recently worked on cutting edge cases on the interaction between human rights, mental capacity and unlawful detention as well as immigration, coronial law and human rights standards.

Notable Cases

R (on the application of Lawal) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (death in detention; SoS's duties) [2021] UKUT 114 (IAC) - Reported in the Guardian, The Times, Financial Times, Metro
Successful judicial review on the interaction of the Secretary of State’s parallel and potentially conflicting duties under her detention and immigration powers. The case required skilful argument on the interaction of substantive and procedural coronial case law, the Secretary of State’s detention services orders, immigration casework instructions and general powers of deportation and removal. As a result of the case, three policies of the Secretary of State’s have been declared unlawful as well as the substantive decisions. This case was the first time that the Secretary of State has ever been found to be in breach of her Article 2 duties in the immigration detention estate. 

Led by Sonali Naik QC and Raza Halim, both also of Garden Court Chambers. Instructed by Toufique Hossain and Jamie Bell of Duncan Lewis Solicitors. Jamie Bell was The Times’ Lawyer of the Week for his work on this case.

R (on the application of VC, by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department UKSC/2019/0077 (on appeal from [2018] EWCA Civ 57)
Successful appeal to the Supreme Court which was settled by consent. VC was a profoundly mentally ill man who lacked capacity and was detained by the Secretary of State. The Court of Appeal found his detention unlawful on, inter alia, grounds of failing to take into account Rule 35 reports and unlawful discrimination but ruled against the Article 3 claim. On appeal, VC’s legal team successfully secured a costs capping order limiting VC’s liability in adverse costs to £nil and, after resisting a complex series of procedural applications by the Secretary of State seeking to knock the appeal out, secured a full concession that VC’s treatment had breached Article 3. Stephen also acted in the consequent damages claim which settled for a six-figure sum.

Led by Stephanie Harrison QC and Amanda Weston QC, both also of Garden Court Chambers. Instructed by Hamish Arnott of Bhatt Murphy.

R (on the application of MBT) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (restricted leave; ILR; disability discrimination) [2019] UKUT 414 (IAC)
Judicial review of the Secretary of State’s continuing refusal to consider MBT longer periods of leave than 6 months under the Restricted Leave policy, as well as to what extent she has a duty under common law, the policy and under the Equality Act to make allowances for MBT’s interlocking physical and psychological disabilities which affect his ability to meet the criteria.

Led by Amanda Weston QC. Instructed by Sonia Routledge of Birnberg Peirce & Partners.

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Inquests and Inquiries

Overview

Stephen acts in complex inquests across detained and community settings, particularly those involving mental health elements. In addition to his strength on legal submissions and developing cutting edge arguments, he has extensive experience in winning the confidence and trust of bereaved families under exceptionally difficult circumstances even by inquest standards.

Notable Cases

Inquest touching on the death of Charlotte Nokes - reported in the Guardian, BBC and Independent
Acting for Charlotte’s family, this concerned an exceptionally vulnerable female prisoner on the now abolished indeterminate sentence for public protection (“IPP”) with a complex case of emotionally unstable personality disorder. The expert psychiatrist for the NHS described her as “caught in a vicious cycle” and a “perfect storm” whereby the interplay between her sentence and mental health condition left her stuck in the prison system. The inquest looked at both standards of mental healthcare and the sentence regime Charlotte was on, leading to significant press interest. Stephen was sole counsel for the family, against 4 counsel for the state IPs. Instructed by Tara Mulcair of Birnberg Peirce & Partners.

Inquest touching upon the death of Archie Spriggs - reported in the BBC, ITV and Shropshire Star
Acting for Archie’s paternal family, the inquest examined state authorities’ role and failures in managing the case of 7 year old who was murdered by his own mother. The inquest required careful handling in light of considerable media interest and unfounded allegations which had been made against Archie’s Dad. The Coroner concluded there were failures in the lead up to Archie’s death and, although non-causative, resulted in a strongly worded Prevention of Future Deaths report. Instructed by Sarah Kellas and Marte Lund of Birnberg Peirce & Partners.

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IMMIGRATION: ASYLUM AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Overview

Stephen acts in complex, long-running immigration matters covering the full range of work from Adult Dependent Relative applications to cessation and revocation appeals involving serious criminal offending. He is highly regarded for his ability to handle acutely vulnerable victims of torture and trafficking, as well as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. He has particular and extensive expertise in handling the claims of individuals lacking capacity, including regularising the immigration status of patients in long-term psychiatric detention.

Stephen’s tactical and strategic insight often results in solicitors seeking advice at the very earliest stages of case building.

Notable Cases

Russian National Security cases (various)
Stephen has acted successfully for a series of high-profile Russian nationals and their family members where there has been the interest and involvement of the domestic Security Services. These have included leave to remain for elderly parents whose daughter feared persecution if she had to travel to see them due to her work and associations, a family who were assessed by the NatCSO as requiring a marker against their home to warn first responders of the potential risk of biochemical agents being used against the family and Chechen and Dagestani refugees who were being assessed under the Government’s Prevent programme.

RM (Zimbabwe)
Stephen acted in the First-Tier and Upper Tribunals on behalf of a Zimbabwean refugee who committed a serious offence when he was 16 and was subject to cessation, revocation and deportation proceedings. Navigating the complex development of the Zimbabwean Country Guidance, Stephen succeeded on the Cessation and Article 3 grounds enabling RM to avoid deportation and application of the restricted leave policy. Instructed by Jawaid Luqmani of Luqmani Thompson & Partners.

AM (Iran)
A rare successful Article 3 medical claim pre-Paposhvilli and pre-AM (Zimbabwe) on behalf of a profoundly disabled young Iranian Kurd who had CDKL5 deficiency disorder, leading to permanent neurodisability and likely death before the age of 18. Successfully adduced live evidence from a leading consultant paediatric neurologist and resisted Home Office arguments that this case fell outside the exceptional circumstances required by N v Secretary of State for the Home Department. Instructed by Mark Shepherd of Migrant Legal Project.

ZS (Ethiopia)
Stephen successfully acted on behalf of this Ethiopian refugee who had been unsuccessful on his asylum claim before the Tribunal twice before and marked as lacking credibility. ZS’s mental health had declined so severely due to the delays in regularising his status and the social isolation caused by Covid-19 that he had no capacity to give evidence. The Home Office conceded an entitlement to Humanitarian Protection at the final CMRH, but resisted the refugee convention grounds which were ultimately accepted by the judge who expressly found that ZS was a witness of truth.

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Community Care Law

Overview

Stephen is regularly instructed in challenges on behalf of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children whose age is disputed by the Home Office or local authorities and entitlement of children and adults to support under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, Children Act 1989 and Care Act 2014.

Notable Cases

R (on the application of CE) v. Royal Borough of Greenwich
A successful age assessment claim on behalf of a vulnerable young Nigerian victim of human trafficking who was forced into sex work while still a child. Despite accepting her account of trafficking and child sex exploitation, the Local Authority social workers criticised her for displaying adult behaviours. After extensive and combative preliminary hearings, the Local Authority conceded on the first day of the final hearing. Instructed by Milla Walker of Luqmani Thompson & Partners

R (on the application of H) v. London Borough of Haringey
An ongoing case on behalf of a Syrian national who was assured by the Local Authority they wouldn’t make a decision without verifying his birth certificate and then made a decision criticising him for failing to provide an expert report verifying it. The Local Authority then retained the birth certificate and failed to return it. Due to the failure to return the birth certificate so that H could have it verified, successful and innovative pre-issue proceedings were lodged in the Queen’s Bench Division seeking an order for delivery up. Instructed by Jawaid Luqmani and Suzie von Strandmann of Luqmani Thompson & Partners

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Actions against state authorities

Stephen acts in the full range of civil work against public authorities – ranging from claims against the Police and Home Office for false imprisonment and Human Rights Act breaches to post-inquest civil claims against prison and healthcare authorities.

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Prison Law

Stephen specialises in complex parole board and judicial review hearings concerning prisoners with complex mental health problems which impact and otherwise limit their ability to progress towards release. He has particular experience and expertise in those offenders with personality disorder diagnoses.

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International Human Rights

Overview

Stephen is an expert on both the substantive and procedural law of the European Court of Human Rights and has brought or advised upon several complex applications to the Court. He has also advised on applications to the other UN Treaty bodies from the Committee against Torture to the Human Rights Committee and CEDAW.

Notable Cases

VCL v. the United Kingdom (app. no. 77587/12) [2021] ECHR 132
The first judgment in the Convention system to hold that Article 4 entails a duty not to prosecute victims of trafficking and that a failure to investigate them as victims rather than offenders will lead to a breach of Article 6. It is the first successful Article 6 challenge to a criminal conviction in over a decade. Led by Henry Blaxland QC and Emma Fitzsimons of Garden Court Chambers and Michelle Brewer, formerly of Garden Court Chambers. Instructed by Philippa Southwell of Birds Solicitors and Southwell & Partners.

DRJ & 4 Others v. Australia
Preliminary advice to 5 Yazidi women who were enslaved, trafficked and abused by an Australian member of ISIL as to whether they had to seek permission to appeal from the High Court of Australia before making a complaint to the UN Treaty Bodies, particularly in light of the risk of the costs.

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Notable Cases & News

Inquest finds serious failures by Elysium Healthcare contributed to death of 19 year old Brooke Martin

Stephen Clark of the Garden Court Chambers Inquest Team represented the family. Stephen was instructed by Catherine Shannon of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

2 July 2021

Home Office held in breach of Article 2 duty concerning death in immigration detention

Sonali Naik QC, Raza Halim and Stephen Clark of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law Team represented the Applicant. They were instructed by Jamie Bell and Toufique Hossain of Duncan Lewis Public Law Team.

14 April 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

High Court radically scales back UK Oil and Gas protest injunction

Stephanie Harrison QC, Stephen Simblet QC and Fatima Jichi represented Weald Action Group protestors. Stephen Clark also represented protestors.

9 February 2021

Inquest finds failings at HMP Durham possibly contributed the death of Garry Beadle

Garry’s mother Karen Beadle is represented by Stephen Clark of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests Team, instructed by Tara Mulcair of Birnberg Peirce, both of whom are INQUEST's Lawyers Group members.

28 October 2020

Inquest concludes into death of IPP prisoner Charlotte Nokes seven years over original tariff

Stephen Clark of Garden Court Chambers represented members of Charlotte’s family and was instructed by Tara Mulcair and Harriet Wistrich of Birnberg Peirce.

4 March 2020

Comparative legal review of gender recognition law across the Commonwealth

Sisters For Change have commissioned the report 'Comparative legal review of gender recognition laws across the Commonwealth' on behalf of the Equality & Justice Alliance. The report is authored by Dr Peter Dunne and Stephen Clark of Garden Court.

16 December 2019

Archie Spriggs Inquest concludes

Archie Spriggs' family were represented by Stephen Clark of Garden Court.

26 November 2019

Court of Appeal overturns draconian injunctions preventing protests against INEOS fracking activities

Stephanie Harrison QC and Stephen Simblet represented Joe Corré. Henry Blaxland QC & Stephen Clark represented Friends of the Earth.

3 April 2019

'The reform of civil justice' is out now

Sir Rupert Jackson, former Lord Justice of Appeal, co-authored the book with Stephen Clark.

23 March 2018

DSD and the Article 3 investigative duty: the long road to justice

Stephen Clark discusses the recent Supreme Court judgment in DSD & NBV v. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.

26 February 2018

Hill immunity revisited: The beginning of the end?

Stephen Clark, Laura Profumo and Camila Zapata Besso comment on the recent Supreme Court judgment in Robinson v Chief Constable for West Yorkshire Police [2018] UKSC 4.

9 February 2018

Garden Court is delighted to announce that all four of the pupils who started in October 2016 have accepted offers of tenancy at the end of their pupillage

Stephen Clark, Tihomir Mak, Laura Profumo and Franck Magennis have joined Chambers as full members and have already started developing their practices.

1 November 2017

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Background

Before commencing pupillage, Stephen spent a number of years working for a range of non-governmental organisations and courts.

Immediately before commencing pupillage, Stephen worked as a judicial assistant to Lord Justice Jackson and Lord Justice Burnett. He gained experience across the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the Court of Appeal, as well as the Divisional Court. While there, he was able to observe cases dealing with Shaken Baby Syndrome, covert surveillance, the deportation regime, national security, extradition, removals under the Dublin Regime, Article 2 inquests and balancing open justice, privacy and freedom of expression.

After his LLM, Stephen worked for the charity JUSTICE. He assisted the team in challenging the imposition of the criminal courts charge, briefing parliamentarians on the new civil orders in the Modern Slavery Bill.

Stephen has worked at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for the Head of the UK's Legal Division. While there, he worked on diverse issues of human rights law ranging from the retention and deletion of historic criminal records, the compatibility of whole life orders with Article 3 and Article 1 jurisdiction over extra-territorial State activity.

He returned to the UK to work at the AIRE Centre for Matthew Evans and Nuala Mole, combining providing front line legal assistance to EEA nationals with drafting third party interventions before domestic and international courts. Stephen also worked at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as a visiting professional.

Publications

Stephen co-authored The Reform of Civil Litigation (2nd ed) with Sir Rupert Jackson, former Lord Justice of Appeal. The new edition looks at reforms to the broader civil justice system and what they mean for access to justice.

Stephen has an extensive history in drafting policy papers, Parliamentary briefings and submissions, dating back to his work with the Constitution Unit, JUSTICE and the AIRE Centre.

Stephen worked closely with the Police Actions Lawyers Group (PALG) and was instrumental in formulating their written submissions to the Jackson Review on Fixed Recoverable Costs, which resulted in the review finding that police actions would 'seldom be suitable' for any fixed costs regime. He remains involved in formulating PALG's response to the subsequent Ministry of Justice consultation.

Training and Seminars

Data Protection for Immigration Practitioners, with Amanda Weston QC

Awards

Sir Joseph Priestley Scholar (2014)

Inner Temple Exhibition Award & Duke of Edinburgh Entrance Award (2012)

School Of Law Prize (2012)

Dean's Commendation (2012)

Clyde & Co European Law Prize (2011)

Clifford Parker Mooting Prize (2011)

Education

  • LLM, Clare College, University of Cambridge (2014)
  • BPTC, Kaplan Law School (2013)
  • LLB (Hons), First Class, University of Exeter (2012)

Professional Membership

  • Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)
  • Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
  • Honourable Society of the Inner Temple
  • Inquest Lawyers Group (ILG)
  • JUSTICE
  • Police Action Lawyers' Group (PALG)
  • Trans Equality Legal Initiative (TELI)

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