Garden Court Chambers ranked Band 1 in Chambers UK 2013

Friday 2 November 2012

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Following on from last week's Bar Award, we are once again delighted to have been ranked as a leading set by Chambers and Partners in the Chambers UK 2013 directory. We are now recommended in six areas of law, with 70 individual practitioner rankings.

Immigration - Band 1

We remain the only set in London ranked in Band 1 in Immigration.

"Garden Court Chambers leads the way in immigration law due to the unparalleled strength in depth it offers. Its impressive range of market-leading silks and juniors cover the complete immigration law spectrum and regularly appear in the most important cases both domestically and internationally. Its counsel are so authoritative in the area that many contribute to the leading academic texts on immigration law. Leading solicitors firms instinctively look to them when difficult cases arise."

SILKS: Laurie Fransman QC "invented nationality law as a modern academic subject." Solicitors look to him for advice on "highly complex citizenship issues - what he doesn't know about British citizenship law isn't worth knowing," they say. He works across jurisdictions, drawing together immigration and human rights law to protect individuals who are subject to political persecution.

Stephen Knafler QC is currently working on important cases involving unaccompanied asylum seekers under the age of 18. He is an acknowledged expert on the crossover between immigration and community care law. Fellow counsel and instructing solicitors are extremely complimentary of Knafler's written and oral advocacy and respect his innovative contribution to immigration law.

Ian Macdonald QC is the author of key immigration practitioners' textbooks. His elevation to Senior Statesman status is in recognition of his long-standing contribution to the field of immigration law.

JUNIORS: Immigration luminaries have "huge respect" for Stephanie Harrison. National security cases and unlawful detention are key areas of focus for her, and her expertise in human rights and public law enables her to secure notable wins against the state. According to one source, "she is someone with a very high success rate in an area where most cases go down in flames."

Kathryn Cronin is particularly known for her work with vulnerable women and on cases where there are difficult family elements, including adoption and surrogacy. "She has an incredible ability to cross-fertilise immigration and family law, and is very useful on adoption cases," say those that instruct her.

Duran Seddon has recently worked with individuals fleeing from political persecution, and Muslim figures who have been excluded from the UK on the basis of comments that they are alleged to have made in a public context. These cases raise important issues concerning Article 10 and the right to freedom of expression, and also questions of nationality law and deportation.

Broad immigration practitioner Navtej Singh Ahluwalia has a specialism in EU freedom of movement law and is called upon to lecture on this subject. Solicitors highlight his client care skills - "the people he represents always know that he really cares what happens to their case."

Adrian Berry "has real flair" according to the solicitors he works with, and is described by a number of interviewees as "excellent on EU points." In PM (Turkey) it was established that the lack of a common family home is not an obstacle to spouses of EU nationals who are seeking the right to permanent residence.

Sadat Sayeed works closely with Laurie Fransman QC, and together the two are instructed on cases which often involve wealthy or powerful individuals who are the subject of political persecution and are seeking asylum in the UK.

David Jones is involved with ongoing work on Article 8 cases, concerning the balance of exclusion based on criminal grounds and the right to family life. He is popular in the market as is Peter Jorro, who works with businesses challenging sponsorship licence withdrawal, wealthy businessmen seeking asylum in the UK and individuals who are facing deportation. He is strongly endorsed by leading immigration solicitors firms.

Patrick Lewis works with businesses challenging the effects of new immigration guidance. He is a counsel of choice for his expertise on the points-based system (PBS) and also undertakes a substantial amount of work on criminal deportation appeals. He is described as "bang up to date, really well prepared and very good with clients."

In AMM & Others Somalia CG, Ronan Toal successfully argued a breach of Article 3, in a case concerning the safety of returning Somalis to Somalia. One source said of him: "He is very bright and hard-working and he thinks of really good points."

Solicitors "go back again and again to" Nadine Finch when faced "with complex immigration and family law crossover cases." She often works with children and has been successful in securing substantial damages for unlawful detention.

Sonali Naik "is completely on top of immigration and a really good operator" according to one source. She has done important work on the safety of returns to Iraq and Iran. Naik is recommended along with Navita Atreya, who commentators describe as "a very strong advocate in the tribunal. If you get bogged down, she is very good at spotting straight away the points to be made and what needs to be done." Other rated juniors at the set include Michelle Brewer, a dedicated immigration practitioner with expertise on trafficking, unaccompanied minors and human rights, and Louise Hooper, an asylum-focused immigration practitioner. Hooper represents clients from initial application to judicial review in the higher courts.

Also recommended is Bryony Poynor, who has carried out important work relating to Dublin II and the removal of unaccompanied minors.

Social Housing - Band 1

"Seen by many as the premier chambers representing tenants or the homeless, Garden Court has individuals who are 'at the forefront of housing law.' Its highly regarded members are 'a pleasure to work with,' and are lauded for their dedication to the sector. They are 'passionate about assisting vulnerable people in society, and ensuring that justice is upheld,' say observers. An additional boon provided by the set comes in the form of the clerking team, led by Phil Bampfylde, all of whom 'provide a high level of service' and are 'very helpful.' "

SILKS: Jan Luba QC is a "master of advocacy" and is "in a league of his own" when it comes to his work on homelessness cases. Armed with an "incredible knowledge and presence, both in and out of court," he has a "lucid and imaginative way of approaching legislation." This "highly courteous, incredibly humble and very approachable" barrister is a great favourite and was described by one instructing solicitor as being "impeccable."

Stephen Knafler QC is a "brilliant and highly effective advocate" who is "able to cut through to the essential issues of a case and get the court to listen to him." He recently represented the Occupy London group in Sun Street Properties v Smith and others, a case that examines the balance between occupiers' rights and the owner's property rights with regards to articles A1 P1, 10 and 11 ECHR.

JUNIORS: The "fierce and robust" Liz Davies has moved up in the rankings this year because she is a "brilliant advocate" and "one of the leaders in homelessness law." She "can tackle complex cases under pressure with ease" and has, of late, been involved with a number of homelessness appeals.

The highly experienced David Watkinson "will fight social injustice without fear and argue a very well balanced academic point of law." He is particularly noted for his work on travellers cases, and has been involved in a large number of judicial reviews in the past year.

Edward Fitzpatrick has a "wealth of knowledge" and is always "willing to advise and share his expertise on any matter." He "is of great assistance when things seem to be at their worst," said one solicitor, and is "known for producing great results." Sources note that he is particularly suited to difficult cases that require real attention to detail.

The same can be said of fellow junior Beatrice Prevatt, who is noted for her "vast experience in possession proceedings and disrepair cases." She has an "excellent head for difficult legal issues," is a "sharp-minded advocate" and is "able to carry the court with her." She is "calm, helpful, fast and efficient with her paperwork," and is also "very good with clients and always very cheerful."

John Beckley has a "near faultless record of excellent results in possession and eviction cases," and is praised for his "ability to think outside of the box." Sources note that he is "very thorough and very practical, and works well with solicitors."

EU law specialist Adrian Berry has been involved with most of the leading cases that have decided how EU rights should be applied domestically in the housing context. His "vast knowledge in this area" has ensured that "he has assisted a very large number of migrants and their children." One impressed source said that his "commitment to ensuring that EU law can be used to benefit people who would otherwise be destitute is unwavering."

Stephen Cottle is praised for his "razor-sharp mind" and proves "excellent in his field of work," which takes in disrepair and possession cases. Sources say "his dedication has helped transform the lives and protect the rights of some of the most marginalised people in society."

Bethan Harris climbs up the rankings due to exceptional feedback and is seen as being a "very capable, very thorough junior." Commentators say that she is particularly good on cases combining housing and community care law.

James Bowen is praised for being "willing to fight for the client," and for his "down-to-earth nature and practical effectiveness" in and out of court. He is a new entrant to our tables as is the "very tenacious" and "truly exceptional" Marina Sergides, a lawyer who is "very knowledgeable about housing law" and who has a "great eye for detail." Sources say that she has "proved time and time again that she is a gifted lawyer." A "dynamic and powerful communicator," Sergides has a particular specialism in possession proceedings.

Another new entrant to the rankings, Michael Paget is a "very calm and measured" advocate who has been involved with some "impressive cases." These include representing the St. Paul's protesters in their proportionality trial, City of London v Samede. He also represented a resident faced with eviction at Dale Farm in Flynn v Basildon DC.

Civil Liberties & Human Rights - Band 2

"The practitioners of Garden Court Chambers enjoy a fine reputation for claimant work in the civil liberties and human rights arena. Commentators observe that the barristers are invariably 'very committed to what they do,' and note their propensity to 'challenge and push forward the law.'"

SILKS: Stephen Knafler QC has a broad human rights practice encompassing such fields as immigration, community care and social housing. Instructing solicitors describe him as 'a subtle and engaging advocate who works very hard on difficult cases for vulnerable clients.' His versatility has been amply demonstrated by his representation of the Occupy London group in relation to the widely publicised occupation of the UBS properties at Sun Street.

Ali Naseem Bajwa QC continues to impress after taking silk in 2011. Areas of focus include civil liberties and human rights matters arising from crime, inquests and terrorism.

JUNIORS: Sources enthuse about Stephanie Harrison, whose recognised expertise in matters pertaining to unlawful detention and minority rights has catapulted her into the top rank of juniors. One solicitor commented that 'her advocacy is possibly the best I've seen,' while another revealed that 'we are in awe of Stephanie - she has a huge commitment to this area of work.' Cases include HXA v the Home Office, concerning the detention of an Iraqi national.

Nadine Finch receives commendations for a practice that spans children's rights, immigration and family law. Sources say that she has a strong grasp of the international law context of her cases, and also pay tribute to her sensitive approach to clients.

Leslie Thomas's acknowledged expertise in restraint-related deaths and deaths in custody has seen him receive instructions in several of the most high-profile cases in this area. Examples of his work include the inquests into the deaths of Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan. Sources attest to his 'phenomenal' advocacy, emphasising that he is 'brilliant in front of a jury.'

Stephen Simblet is 'extremely bright' and is 'motivated by complex legal points,' say sources. His claimant practice revolves around actions against the police, inquests into deaths in custody and cases involving psychiatric detention.

Edward Grieves represents individuals in cases concerning terrorism and national security. Sources comment that he is 'very committed to the justice of his cases' and that he is 'unfazed by the real difficulty of working in this area with the Home Office as your opponent.'

Anna Morris is forging a fine reputation for claimant work in relation to police and protest law. Sources suggest that she has developed a level of expertise that belies her relatively short time at the Bar. They comment that she is 'experienced and insightful beyond her years.'

Police Law - Band 2

"Garden Court offers 'some very impressive barristers with a broad range of skills' who are all 'dedicated to their work.' The set has extensive experience of handling actions against the police and other detaining authorities, and is well known for its work on inquests and judicial reviews. Sources further praise it for having 'fantastic' clerks who are 'quick to deal with queries' and 'always willing to help.' One interviewee commented: 'You can feel the personal touch there when the clerks get to know you by name and always greet you with a friendly hello.'"

JUNIORS: Promoted to star junior, Leslie Thomas is a 'dyed in the wool claimant barrister' whose performances are 'equal or above those of QCs in practising in the field.' One peer notes that he is 'relentless in front a jury' and say that he is an 'excellent cross-examiner,' and 'one of the best advocates I've ever seen.' Recently, he has been involved with the proposed inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, whose death precipitated the Tottenham riots in 2011 that eventually spread through the country.

Stephen Simblet 'is first class when it comes to the more technical side of arguments,' say sources. 'Extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points,' he has been involved in some 'real key judicial reviews.' Recently, he has brought a successful claim against the police for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and assault, which resulted in substantial damages for his client.

Making waves in this sector, Anna Morris is 'one of the up-and-coming lawyers and is experienced and insightful beyond her years. She has an 'impressive breadth of knowledge and huge commitment to cases' and is also 'very diligent, exceptionally clever' and has 'a great eye for detail and real commitment to her clients.' 'Fantastic on her feet' and 'really robust' in her approach, she 'builds a very good rapport with clients' and 'is sensitive to the families' needs and shows that she is there to fight in their corner.'

Sarah Hemingway 'is at the top of her game' and 'impresses with her advocacy.' Noted for her ability to dig through a huge amount of written work in a short time she is celebrated by those that use her for being 'a thoughtful barrister, with a human touch.' 'Tenacious' in her approach, she has represented a number of claimants in civil actions against the police, and recently tackled an interesting case challenging the reasonableness of stop and search decisions.

Colin Hutchinson has a 'lovely down-to-earth manner,' 'builds excellent relationships with our clients' and is a also a 'brilliant advocate in court.' He was involved with the inquest into the death of Keith Richards, who was killed by police when he fired a series of crossbow bolts.

Deirdre Malone is 'able to work quickly and efficiently,' can build 'brilliant relationships' with clients, and 'does well in the more complex inquests.' She advises on a broad range of actions against the police including false imprisonment, misfeasance and claims under the Human Rights Act.

Crime - Band 3

"Founded on a commitment to human rights and social justice, this large and diverse defence set 'provides quality law and fearless advocacy' and 'counsel that is always of the highest calibre.' Garden Court Chambers has a strong international crime team and members who specialise in judicial review, prison law and extradition. It also has something of a reputation for complex and serious fraud matters. By way of example, its members have been led in large fraud trials arising from Operation Duma and Operation Erasure."

SILKS: When the 'absolutely superb' Henry Blaxland QC is delivering a speech he 'completely dominates the courtroom,' and judges 'utterly trust' him. Sources say he combines 'intelligence and experience' when defending in high-profile criminal cases. His recent work has included R v Michael Campbell, a murder resulting from a drugs turf war in Bermondsey.

Representing the young and the vulnerable is a specialism of Judy Khan QC, an 'extremely able and incredibly hard-working advocate' who is universally lauded for her 'total dedication to clients.' Her criminal defence practice covers serious crime and she has a great deal of experience in handling allegations of sexual offences and baby shaking. She recently appeared in R v Khalid, an attempted murder case involving three Muslim inmates who attacked a war criminal found guilty of aiding and abetting the Srebrenica genocide.

Michael Turner QC is a 'heavyweight QC' with a 'brilliant, intellectual legal brain' and 'a lot of gravitas.' He has extensive experience of both trial and appellate work and his expertise is often sought for referrals from the Criminal Cases Review Commission. He is also a noted specialist when it comes to allegations of baby shaking, his appearance in R v Chana Al-Alas being an example of his efforts in this direction.

New silk Kieran Vaughan QC is 'expected to go far' in his new role as 'nothing fazes him' and he has a 'fantastic way with both juries and clients.' He defends in high-profile terrorist cases and matters of organised crime. Recently, he has handled the Omagh bombing appeal in Northern Ireland and R v Sabir Ali, a £120 million gold smuggling fraud.

JUNIORS: 'Talented extradition barrister' Rebecca Hill offers 'great client service' and is someone whose 'knowledge is really up there with all of the top juniors.' Child cruelty, armed robberies and sex cases feature amongst her serious crime work. Extradition takes up over half of her practice, and she is noted for training solicitors in this area. Wright v Argentina, Clarke v USA, Croatia v Zdinjak, and UAE v Amir are all examples of her recent work.

Administrative & Public Law - Band 4

"Good on public law generally, Garden Court Chambers is a particularly strong immigration set, that is also well renowned for its community care expertise. Instructing solicitors appreciate its broad experience in these fields and its capabilities in urgent, time-pressured situations. One solicitor commented that 'we are confident when instructing the set that they have barristers with a high level of expertise who are dedicated to providing excellent service and representation to their clients.'"

SILKS Stephen Knafler QC is 'particularly good for claimant work' and is 'able to quickly jettison the hopeless points, and pick up the points that might win.' Outside court, Knafler is 'very client-friendly, very approachable and accessible,' and proves 'immaculate in his preparation for conferences or advices.'

One interviewee identified Jan Luba QC as 'number one in the country for very complex social security cases.' He is 'a master of advocacy, who has an incredibly lucid and imaginative way of approaching legislation.'

JUNIORS Unlawful detention is the keystone of Stephanie Harrison's practice. 'She is someone who is incredibly committed to the issues and brings so much to the case in terms of judgement and analysis.'

Stephen Simblet is 'extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points.' His public law practice centres around challenges to official decision-making in police and detention-related matters.

Shu Shin Luh was singled out for positive comment by a lot of interviewees. She is known for her particular expertise in age assessment, and is 'able to get to grips with things amazingly quickly. She is astonishingly bright.'

Community Care

Although the directory does not rank sets of chambers for community care work, three of our team are recommended.

At Garden Court Chambers, Stephen Knafler QC is singled out as "absolutely the go-to barrister when it comes to the interface between community care and asylum law." He acts for both local authorities and claimants, and in one recent matter - R (Sabiri) v Croydon LBC - advised on the interpretation of the Children Act 1989 insofar as it covers financial contributions to the cost of renting accommodation near where a child is educated or trained.

Timothy Baldwin is another to impress at the set due to his "calm demeanour, sound judgement and excellent written work." He recently appeared alongside Stephen Knafler QC in R (Buckinghamshire CC) v Kingston upon Thames RBC, a case concerning whether a person whose care has been funded by one local authority can be moved to another local authority's area without consultation.

The "exceptionally energetic and driven" Shu Shin Luh is a rising star at Garden Court Chambers who "has appeared in many cases usually handled by those barristers well above her year of call." She excels in those matters concerning the rights of children, and in A v Essex CC advised on the first test case regarding disabled children's right of access to effective education under the ECHR.

Family Law

Maggie Jones of Garden Court Chambers is "very committed" and "good with clients," say sources. She is a private and public law children specialist with experience at every level including the Supreme Court.


Marc Willers of Garden Court Chambers is "very helpful in pre-instruction discussions," and is lauded for his representation of Gypsies, travellers and Roma. Of late he has been involved in high-profile cases arising from the battle over Dale Farm.

Garden Court would like to thank all of our clients and peers for recognising the quality of the legal services we provide and for recommending us. Similarly we would like to thank the editors and researchers at Chambers and Partners for the hundreds of hours of work that went into the new edition.

Chambers UK publishes rankings of the leading barristers, sets of chambers, solicitors and law firms in the UK, based on extensive research and from taking up references with solicitors and clients.

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

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