Upholding the rule of law in a time of COVID

Thursday 22 October 2020

This webinar is brought to you by members of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law Team.

Date: Thursday 22 October 2020
Time: 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue: Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Administrative and Public Law

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This webinar, chaired by Stephanie Harrison QC and Ubah Dirie, will discuss the current threats to the Rule of Law posed by COVID-19 restrictions:  

  • The constitutional attack and the Internal Markets Bill
    Irena Sabic & Grainne Mellon
    The publication of the Internal Markets Bill has provoked a constitutional and legal crisis. Opposition to the Bill has been voiced from many quarters. The concessions from the government have been very limited. This session will examine the consequences of the Bill on the UK constitution and the principle of the Rule of Law - how and if they survive if the Bill is enacted. 
  • Rule of 6 and implications for families with children
    Sonali Naik QC & Kate Aubrey-Johnson

    Hard won protections for children that have taken years to achieve have been side stepped by the government and while the global health emergency provides the government with a justification to take swift and far reaching action, the long-term impact on children requires a measured approach. Sonali Naik QC and Kate Aubrey-Johnson explore how the government has used the Coronavirus Act 2020, secondary legislation and delegated powers to implement far-reaching restrictions on our daily lives and removed core legal protections for children. 

  • The impact of COVID on the justice system
    Miranda Butler & Joanne Cecil 
    The civil and criminal justice systems have been significantly affected by the impact of the pandemic. Coming after a decade of cuts, the pandemic is bringing about drastic changes in how courts and the criminal justice system operate. While some, such as the overdue expansion of the use of remote and digital hearings, may be welcomed, many of the changes give cause for concern. Jo Cecil and Miranda Butler will discuss some of these changes, including custody time limits, changes to court hours and whether remote justice can be transparent.


Stephanie Harrison QC, Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 1991) (Year of Silk: 2013) (Co-Chair)
Described as a "brilliant advocate", Stephanie is a leading public law practitioner who has appeared at all court levels. Her multi-disciplinary practice spans the breadth of public law and civil liberties. Stephanie's cases include those arising from unlawful detention, national security, official misconduct, abuse of power, child sexual exploitation, equality and discrimination, minority rights and civil rights protest and injunctions.

Stephanie is regularly involved in test case litigation and has been instrumental in winning some of the most important cases within her areas of specialism in recent times. Much of her work is high profile and receives media coverage. She is passionate about upholding and advancing the rights of vulnerable, minority groups and children. Stephanie was appointed as legal counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2015 and is head of the Garden Court Public Law team.

Stephanie is ranked for Administrative and Public Law, Civil Liberties and Human Rights and Immigration in both the Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar Guide. Stephanie was shortlisted for Civil Liberties & Human Rights Silk of the Year at Legal 500 UK Awards 2020 and for Human Rights and Public Law Silk of the Year by Chambers Bar Awards 2019. 

Ubah Dirie, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2014) (Co-Chair)
Ubah Dirie, is recognised as a tenacious and client focused advocate who specialises in advice, representation and advocacy in all areas of immigration, asylum, nationality, EU free movement, deportation and detention. She is frequently instructed to represent vulnerable individuals including victims of trafficking, unaccompanied asylum seeking children and those with complex mental health issues or without capacity.

Irena Sabic, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2002) 
Irena’s expertise is sought-after in individual cases and policy challenges concerning unlawful detention, victims of trafficking and the rights of vulnerable adults and children subject to immigration control. She has been involved in test case litigation relating to migrants’ rights concerning community care, welfare support, immigration detention, deportation and removal. She regularly litigates unlawful detention cases, particularly those raising novel and complex points. She also has significant expertise in civil claims arising from unlawful detention and on behalf of victims of trafficking.

Irena is public access accredited and welcomes enquiries from members of the public or organisations seeking advice or representation in all areas of specialism. Irena is currently Chair of the Health Service Products (Pricing, Cost Control and Information) Appeals Tribunal.

Grainne Mellon, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2010)
Gráinne is a public law specialist with expertise in human rights, civil liberties and equality law. Her practice includes all aspects of immigration and nationality law, community care and Court of Protection, children's rights and discrimination law. She acts in judicial review claims and in civil claims for damages under the Human Rights Act 1998. Gráinne regularly advises individuals as well as for charities and other organisations. Her expertise spans public and private law and she enjoys acting in complex trials involving cross-examination as much as arguing points of public law. She is particularly known for her work representing vulnerable children and adults across the spectrum of both judicial review claims and civil / human rights claims. Gráinne is appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's preferred Panel of Counsel.

In addition to her domestic practice, Gráinne acts and advises in international and European human rights law and in international criminal law. She teaches International Human Rights Law at the London School of Economics and is also a Fellow in the Centre for Human Rights at the LSE. She is the Vice-Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. Grainne sits, on a part-time basis, as a Judge in the First Tier Tribunal Health, Education and Social Care (Mental Health).  

Sonali Naik QC, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 1991) (Year of Silk: 2018)
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 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.

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. 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.

Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2001)
Kate is a youth justice specialist barrister at Garden Court Chambers with experience as a criminal defence practitioner and public lawyer. Kate was formerly Director of the Youth Justice Legal Centre at Just for Kids Law. She helped establish the Youth Justice Legal Centre, a national organisation which provides expert legal advice and guidance on children’s rights in the criminal justice system. In this role she developed and delivered a national training programme for lawyers on youth justice law. Kate is co-author of the leading textbook Youth Justice Law and Practice (LAG, 2019). She is a youth justice expert and is regularly called upon to give lectures and deliver training. She chairs the Ministry of Justice’s Youth Justice Working Group on Quality of Advocacy and she sits on the Justice Working Party on BAME Disproportionality, the Howard League’s Making Sure Black Lives Matter and Young Adults Advisory Boards. Kate is working closely with the Law Society, the Criminal Bar Association and the Inns of Court College of Advocacy to ensure lawyers have the specialist skills, knowledge and expertise to represent children.

Kate has an extensive knowledge of children’s rights law and also works as a SEND mediator. She is the author of Making Mediation Work For You (LAG, June 2012) and is a member of Garden Court’s Mediation team.

Joanne Cecil, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2005)
Joanne Cecil combines a mixed serious crime and public law practice with criminal justice-related judicial review and civil litigation in the civil liberties sphere. She has a strong appellate practice both domestically and internationally, appearing at all levels including the Supreme Court.

Joanne has developed an expertise in strategic litigation and acting for intervenors. She has been instructed in every significant test case at the appellate levels concerning juvenile justice in recent years, resulting in significant changes to the law. Jo was the winner of the Legal Aid Barrister of the Year category of the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards (LALYs) 2019.

Miranda Butler, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2013)
Miranda works in a broad range of public law areas, including unlawful detention, community care,  healthcare provision, trafficking, and strategic litigation. She is regularly instructed in judicial review challenges, including urgent matters and applications for interim relief.  Miranda is a member of the the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Panel of Counsel and in 2020 she was a finalist in the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards.

Miranda is regularly instructed in strategic litigation, including various claims which have directly led to an increase in the support received by victims of trafficking. She is currently instructed on a strategic challenge to the level of fees for children seeking to register or naturalise as British Citizens, in PRCBC and ors v SSHD in the Court of Appeal, led by Richard Drabble QC.

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