Garden Court Chambers ranked Band 1 in Chambers UK 2014

Thursday 31 October 2013

We are once again delighted to have been ranked as a leading set by Chambers and Partners in the Chambers UK 2014 directory. We are now recommended in six areas of law, with 72 individual practitioner rankings.

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Immigration - Band 1

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

"This set is recognised as having the greatest collective immigration expertise in the market. In terms of depth and experience, its members hold sway, and instructing solicitors turn to them time and time again. Sources note that "the ethos of the set is excellent - they go above and beyond the call of duty. Pro-migrant, they make sure everybody, whoever they are, will get the right representation." "The set has some really outstanding barristers, and the general service and clerking are very good."

SILKS: Ian Macdonald QC is hugely experienced and a man with an excellent reputation. His recent cases have included a number pertaining to the removal of sponsor licences from colleges." "He's so experienced - he literally wrote the book on immigration law."

Laurie Fransman QC is highly rated by barristers and solicitors alike, he is the "guru on nationality issues" and has "unmatched knowledge," making him the first port of call for many. "He's an absolute joy to work with and a very impressive advocate." "We seek opinions on highly sensitive matters from Laurie, based on his pre-eminence and depth of experience."

Stephen Knafler QC maintains a busy immigration practice and regularly appears in front of the Supreme Court, ECHR and ECJ. Solicitors praise his collaborative approach, noting that "he is eager to get everyone involved in the case and willing to listen to everybody's arguments." "He's a very good lawyer, who doesn't take stupid points."

"A guru on immigration law" who "knows everything there is to know about it," Stephanie Harrison QC "has great wisdom and judgement. She has the ability to deal with very sensitive cases and handles clients with immense calm and wisdom." "In court she's capable of delivering knockout blows."

JUNIORS: Kathryn Cronin's knowledge on the crossover between family and immigration is "invaluable." She is the first choice for "complex family appeals" and "one of the few barristers you can instruct on international adoptions." Capable of handling the full range of immigration work, she is "amazing all-round and as good as a barrister can be." She is described as "calm, clear and loved by clients."

Navtej Singh Ahluwalia is many solicitors' first port of call for immigration and judicial review. Experienced in all areas, he is praised for his knowledge of the points-based system (PBS) and his "great grasp of the changes that have gone on in the past few years." "Navi is a great advocate, who is very persuasive and can be charmingly aggressive." He "has great attention to detail, and wins cases where other barristers may struggle."

Rebecca Chapman has a great deal of experience in immigration law and is particularly good at those issues with a family law angle. She "continues to be the counsel of first choice in cases involving spouses," and is noted for her client care, particularly when it comes to vulnerable clients. "She has a fantastic rapport with clients and is extremely bright." "She brings years and years of experience to the work."

Duran Seddon brings a huge amount of experience to the table and specialises in the most complex legal issues. He is well known for his work involving high-net worth individuals with asylum claims. "He produces excellent written work, and he thinks very clearly and deeply about Home Office cases." He has the much sought-after combination of "technically ability" and the ability to "build inter-personal relationships."

Ronan Toal advises on all areas of immigration law, handling cases up to and including the Supreme Court. Described as a "super brain at the top of his game," he is an "excellent barrister" who has been involved in some very high-profile work. He is described as "supremely clever and authoritative, the clients have confidence in him straight away." "Working with him is easy, as he always works within deadlines and he's diplomatic when he thinks something is wrong."

A "guru on European immigration issues," Adrian Berry has handled many of the largest cases in the past few years and is regularly instructed because of his technical ability and fantastic knowledge. He is described as "thorough and highly knowledgeable." "In EU law he really is the person."

Peter Jorro is active in all areas of immigration law, including PBS and EEA matters. He practises at all levels, and has an active workload in the higher courts. He is described as "an affable chap who gets good results. He's very responsive." "Technically great and very knowledgeable, he has a very articulate way of conveying that knowledge to clients."

Patrick Lewis focuses on immigration matters with a human rights slant but also has a growing commercial practice. He is "a dedicated barrister" who is "very good at handling tricky cases that others might not be too keen on."

Sonali Naik is highly rated by peers for her work on immigration and asylum matters, she is regularly instructed on judicial reviews and cases before the Court of Appeal. She has recently been involved in country guidance cases relating to Iraq and Afghanistan and is "approachable and easy to work with."

Sadat Sayeed handles the full range of immigration law but is especially experienced in politically sensitive asylum and human rights matters for high-profile businesspeople. He has further expertise in detention cases and is said to be "incredibly dedicated" to this work. "Clients love him and he doesn't stop until his case is as good as it can be." "He's really good with vulnerable clients."

David Jones has a wide immigration and asylum practice, and has recently been involved in a number of unlawful detention cases. "His written arguments are always very good."

Michelle Brewer has a mixed practice and regularly takes on both business immigration matters and human rights-focused cases. She is a particular expert on cases involving victims of trafficking. "A real fighter."

Nadine Finch is an immigration and human rights specialist with particular expertise on the rights of children. She is "quiet but persuasive," and is known for her commanding advocacy.

Bryony Poynor receives praise from senior barristers for her practice. She works across all areas of immigration law, including matters pertaining to nationality and deportation. "Her background as a former lawyer at ECHR really shines through."

Mark Symes is an expert in refugee law and a "real expert on asylum matters." He is often instructed on country guidance cases and has a good knowledge of other jurisdictions. He is described as "dynamic and brilliant."

Abigail Smith is a skilled immigration and asylum junior who is regularly sought out by some of the leading solicitors in this area. "She continues to impress as she combines skilled advocacy with excellent client care."

Colin Yeo has a wide-ranging practice and regularly represents both clients in asylum cases and high net worth individuals. "He is clear, to the point and practical, which is always an important skill, particularly in immigration matters." "I have found him to be very thorough and responsive. The clients like him and feel confident in his ability to represent them."

Amanda Weston is "sparky and imaginative" in the way that she deals with some of the most difficult cases involving terrorist suspects and reoffending foreign criminals. "It is important to go the extra mile and she does." Amanda "takes the most difficult cases, and is a leading radical lawyer."

Despite her relatively recent call year, Leonie Hirst is highly praised by her more senior peers. Her practice encompasses all aspects of immigration law and takes in a number of detention cases. One peer reported: "I was up against her and was extremely impressed. She was very able."

Social Housing - Band 1

The team at Garden Court Chambers is frequently seen acting against local authorities or housing providers. It boasts a deep bench of barristers with a broad range of experience and expertise in the social housing sector. Members have been seen acting on a variety of prominent cases such as Solihull v Hickin, Camden v Stafford and Reading Borough Council v Holt. As one commentator stated: "It's the leading housing law chambers for tenants - the individuals here are always pushing the boundaries." With Garden Court Chambers, "You always get a gold standard service."

SILKS: Jan Luba QC is widely considered to represent the pinnacle of expertise in housing. "Watching him is like a master class," says one interviewee. Over an accomplished career, he has accrued huge experience handling the full gamut of housing matters. "He is currently at the top of his game and is, frankly, brilliant." He is "one of the leading advocates of his generation."

Noted as a top QC for social welfare cases and administrative and public law generally, Stephen Knafler QC is "an exceptionally talented barrister." He is praised for having a broad practice and is acknowledged as someone who is diligent in his approach and communicates well with judges.

JUNIORS: A favourite of instructing solicitors, Liz Davies has worked on a number of cases that have become leading authorities in social housing law. She regularly acts for vulnerable parties and is frequently instructed by the Official Solicitor. "She's very thorough, absolutely brilliant with clients and has a lot of gravitas. She knows the subject extremely well and is a highly specialised housing lawyer."

"Bright and articulate," Adrian Berry has extensive knowledge of the eligibility of EU nationals to housing rights. "He's really stepped up as a leading junior on EU-related housing cases." "He's consistently turning out quality Court of Appeal and European work." Sources praise him for his ability to convey complex arguments in a concise, clear and persuasive manner.

While he has a broad practice in housing matters, John Beckley has particular expertise in defending vulnerable clients facing allegations of antisocial behaviour. "He's absolutely brilliant at working with challenging or emotive clients." He is "an extremely approachable and thorough practitioner with an excellent client manner."

James Bowen is a seasoned barrister with experience of an array of housing cases including homelessness and possession claims. "He's a pleasure to be against, and he always chooses the best arguments for his clients." "He's not easily flustered - he's a safe pair of hands."

Edward Fitzpatrick is experienced in cases concerning a range of housing issues including homelessness, disrepair and security of tenure. "He's really taking up the mantle in social housing," say those that use him. "A civil and eloquent opponent," he is commended for being "particularly clever." Fitzpatrick's "conspicuous professional skill and charm" was highlighted by the judge in Bakare v London Borough of Barking & Dagenham.

Bethan Harris has particular expertise in housing law where mental capacity is in issue, but acts on a wide range of housing matters generally. "Detailed yet pragmatic," "she'll exhaust every argument and is always robust in court."

Michael Paget is consistently highlighted by other lawyers as a key housing barrister. He demonstrates a wealth of experience and has handled numerous injunctions, unlawful evictions and possession cases. Sources point to his approachability, meticulous nature and excellent people skills. "He has significant experience on very challenging cases," and is "really impressive when under fire."

Lauded by instructing solicitors, Stephen Cottle works on a range of matters in this field, but is particularly noted for his work on issues relating to Travellers. "Excellent on his feet and great in his written work. He'll take novel arguments to their conclusion."

"Often a first choice," according to interviewees, Beatrice Prevatt has a broad practice that incorporates housing and community care, although she is particularly noted for her expertise in acting for tenants on disrepair matters. Sources praise her "thorough and sensible" approach. "She's a great advocate on disrepair cases and has an in-depth knowledge from the tenants' point of view."

"A really decent opponent," according to peers, Marina Sergides has a practice that covers a variety of housing matters. She's also particularly focused on cases involving the Court of Protection or mental health matters. "Popular with clients and someone with excellent advocacy skills." She "has a great understanding of how a case develops - she's tactically astute."

Maya Naidoo has worked on a range of housing cases including those involving Equality Act, immigration and domestic violence issues. Instructing solicitors particularly note her attention to detail: "She'll explore every possible angle when looking at legal processes."

Civil Liberties and Human Rights - Band 2

Garden Court Chambers is renowned for the vigour and acuity with which its members assert the human rights of claimants who have been the victims of public bodies. It offers particular strength in cases concerning deaths in custody, immigration, healthcare, the provision of housing and social care, and in a variety of actions against the police. Members often appear in coroners' inquests, and handle an increasing volume of work on behalf of local and central government. "You feel very comfortable dealing with the clerks here. You know that whoever they nominate for a case will be good."

SILKS: Stephen Knafler QC focuses on human rights matters arising in the fields of community care, housing and immigration. He has appeared before the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. "He is excellent. He is very knowledgeable in this area of the law and really good at coming up with novel approaches to a case." "He combines composed and thoughtful advocacy with a good tactical sense."

Ali Naseem Bajwa QC combines his human rights practice with expertise in criminal defence. He specialises in cases concerning terrorism, homicide and detention. He recently acted in a trial concerning a number of individuals facing allegations that they had been engaged in preparations to commit acts of terrorism.

Stephanie Harrison QC concentrates her human rights practice on cases involving public law and civil law. Her areas of expertise include the rights of minorities and marginalised members of society, freedom of speech, public demonstrations, official misconduct and unlawful detention. "She knows this area very well. She is a thorough and authoritative advocate." "She is a good lawyer, who is very passionate, committed and forceful in court."

JUNIORS: Stephen Simblet handles a variety of civil liberties cases arising from his interest in coronial law, judicial review, police law and public law. He is also proficient in the areas of social welfare and mental health. "He is not afraid of a hard fight and will take interesting points. His breadth of knowledge means that he can see a way into things that other barristers might miss." "He is considered and understated but very effective."

Nadine Finch specialises in human rights matters involving community care and immigration. She is an authority on the rights of child migrants, and is prepared to offer advice pro bono. The sensitive nature of her work requires that many of her cases remain confidential.

Leslie Thomas has established a human rights practice that draws on his expertise in actions against the police. He demonstrates particular expertise in cases concerning police shootings and deaths in custody. "He is very enthusiastic, very determined, and very good at negotiating difficult settlements in actions against the police." "He is somebody that you would really like to have on your side."

Edward Grieves centres his human rights practice on national security, terrorism, asylum and immigration cases. He has a particular interest in matters in which alleged terrorists have been stripped of their nationality.

Sarah Hemingway attracts increasing recognition for her burgeoning human rights practice. She acts predominantly for claimants, specialising in cases concerning the rights of prisoners, bereaved families, victims of crime and victims of police misconduct. Sarah is described as "A great advocate who makes persuasive arguments." "She is very good with clients and analyses issues well. She is able to focus on what is important."

Anna Morris focuses on civil liberties and human rights matters involving deaths in custody, public demonstrations and police misconduct. She is an authority on the criminal justice system. "She is very passionate about the work that she does, and is keen to effect change."

Amanda Weston specialises in cases concerning national security and deprivations of citizenship. "She is great. She gets excellent results in court and has very good judgement. You feel you are in very safe hands."

Police Law - Band 2

The Garden Court police actions group is highly regarded for its strength and breadth of practice. Members of the set are strong on criminal law, prison law, inquest work and matters relating to psychiatric units and immigration detention centres. They have been instructed on some of the leading cases in the field including the Mark Duggan police shooting inquest as well as the novel and complex case of Alanov v Chief Constable of Sussex, held at the Court of Appeal. One client says: "They are the only chambers we will work with. I know I will get top advice. They are very approachable and I feel I can pick up the phone anytime and ask for advice." "A very accessible and friendly set."

JUNIORS: Widely heralded as a prominent legal aid lawyer in actions against the police, Leslie Thomas has an additional strength in coronial law with a focus on deaths in police custody, police shootings and restraint-related fatalities. He has a growing practice in secret evidence, human rights and access to data cases. He is described as a "phenomenal advocate and cross-examiner, who is great for cases that will go all the way to trial. He runs rings around the witnesses." "He is fearless and juries like him. Also great with clients and can explain very stressful situations to people."

Stephen Simblet specialises in actions against the police, inquests and claims arising out of psychiatric detention. He is experienced in jury trial cases in the High Court with serious mental health angles. "His attention to detail is great and he is brilliant on technical cases." "He is extremely bright and motivated by complex legal points."

Sarah Hemingway specialises in civil jury trials and has experience in multi-claim cases. Her day-to-day work includes false imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution. Other areas of strength include discrimination claims, judicial review and mediation within the police law context. She is described as "a real star of police action trials and an excellent cross-examiner." "She's very friendly and approachable and this is why the clients like and trust her."

Colin Hutchinson has a practice strong on Article 2 Human Rights Act inquests and subsequent civil actions. Key cases involve police shootings, self-inflicted deaths in custody and child custody deaths. "He's very strong on inquests and police actions. He's really down-to-earth and has a valuable trade union background."

Anna Morris is effective at handling civil and public law cases which arise from protests and the abuse of police powers. Inquests relating to prison and police custody are another key area of her practice. She is described as "very impressive on her feet and can battle through complex issues." "She is involved in interesting Article 8 work, is very good on protests and has a useful criminal law background."

Rajeev Thacker represents clients in claims against the police and public authorities, with expertise in discrimination and immigration matters. "He has unparalleled knowledge of discrimination law in the field of police actions and can always be relied upon for thoughtful advice." "He is good on his feet and when cross-examining officers. He identifies the issues and nips them in the bud before they become a problem."

Kirsten Heaven focuses on inquests and inquiries into deaths in custody on the side of the claimant. Her work involves police civil actions and litigation on matters concerning immigration, mental health, and children in the care of the state. "She is very fast on her feet and is on top of the detail. Her drafting is great and her analysis is impressive." "She is very friendly and approachable and this is why the clients like and trust her."

A leading name in police action work who regularly appears at the Court of Appeal, Patrick Roche "can weave his way through a complex web of satellite cases and can explain things to a vulnerable client in a condensed and manageable way." "A great all-rounder and an excellent advocate. His written work is detailed and straightforward, and he turns papers around quickly."

Crime - Band 3

The set is highly rated for its commitment to social justice. Members of chambers handle the full gamut of complex criminal matters, and are particularly known for defending in high-profile terrorism and public order offences trials. By way of example, the set recently defended in the terrorism case relating to the plot to plant an explosive device at the LSE. The clerks are endorsed by sources, who value their friendliness and "willingness to help." "The clerks, led by Colin Cook, are efficient, knowledgeable and helpful. Their fee system is similarly efficient and professional."

SILKS: Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association in 2012-13, Michael Turner QC has been very active in voicing the profession's concerns. Whilst less active than in other years, he maintains a formidable reputation for criminal defence work, and is especially good on appellate matters and baby shaking cases.

Widely recognised a leading criminal silk, Henry Blaxland QC has long-standing experience on the defence side. His practice encompasses homicide and terrorism trials, and he is often instructed in appellate matters. Sources highlight him for his strategic approach and his client care skills. "He is an advocate whom judges pay close attention to because of the quality of his legal submissions."

Warmly recommended by sources for her excellent advocacy skills, Judy Khan QC handles very serious criminal cases, particularly gang-related killings. She is often chosen to represent young and vulnerable clients. "Exceptional care and hard work goes into every case she handles. She works tirelessly for the right outcome, is approachable, and is always ready to provide advice and assistance."

Stephen Kamlish QC is highly respected and experienced in handling cases of the utmost seriousness. "He is fearless and exciting to watch. He is a force of nature."

Also ranked for crime are:

Crime: International Criminal Law

Sareta Ashraph has a strong reputation for both her advisory and advocacy experience at the UN and before the international criminal courts. "She is very eloquent in her pleadings, and approaches legal issues in a very intelligent and methodical manner."

Richard Harvey is held in high esteem for his impressive work at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. "He is extremely good and very dedicated."

Administrative & Public Law - Band 4

Garden Court Chambers is committed to acting on behalf of claimants in public law matters of considerable social and political significance. Its members are particularly adept at handling cases concerning immigration and human rights, and demonstrate additional strength in the fields of prison law, actions against the police, social welfare and crime. They also appear in significant inquests. "If you call with an emergency case they will be able to find you someone, and whoever you get will be a barrister of real quality. The clerks there are really good - very open and accommodating."

SILKS: Jan Luba QC specialises in public law matters involving housing and community care. He is particularly experienced in handling judicial reviews. "He is a lovely advocate. I have heard him speak when I thought he was wrong and he was able to win me over." "He is brilliant with lay clients, really down to earth and persuasive."

Stephen Knafler QC maintains a diverse public law practice. He demonstrates particular expertise in cases concerning community care, housing and human rights. "He is really good on big public law issues. He is able to get on top of the issues exceptionally quickly." "He offers composed and thoughtful advocacy, and has good tactical sense."

Stephanie Harrison QC offers advice and representation to claimants in a variety of judicial review challenges. She demonstrates particular expertise in cases concerning national security, unlawful detention, discrimination, vulnerable members of society and official misconduct. "She is very clear thinking and can offer workable solutions to thorny and complex problems." "She is extremely intelligent and very accessible."

JUNIORS: Shu Shin Luh specialises in public law cases concerning the rights of children and vulnerable adults. She also offers advice and representation to public bodies and NGOs. "She has a comprehensive knowledge of children's rights law, and is very clever and able."

Stephen Simblet handles public law matters relating to police and coronial law. He is also experienced in cases concerning mental health. "He is extremely bright, and motivated by complex legal points."

Community Care

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

Ranked in Band 1, Stephen Knafler QC is "highly regarded by peers and solicitors alike, his expertise covers all major areas of community care law and he is noted for acting on cases that have an immigration law aspect. Also the general editor of the Community Care Law Reports, Stephen is described as "one of the finest lawyers out there. He's extremely able, skilful and creative. He's both exceptionally good on paper and exceptionally good on his feet."

Timothy Baldwin is an expert in social welfare whose practice covers community care law, notably cases pertaining to mental health or immigration issues. He frequently acts in an advisory role for charities and assists with training for caseworkers and asylum support judges. "He finds novel arguments in difficult cases to achieve results for the clients. This is what he's good at - not just getting results, but getting the right outcome for his clients."

Shu Shin Luh is a talented junior who is recognised in this practice area for her work representing the rights of vulnerable children and adults. She is experienced in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, her practice mainly focuses on claimant work and includes cases with an immigration law element. "She's an extremely gifted barrister, who is exceptionally clever and very quick. She's also very tenacious, but the standout aspect for me is that she takes an overview of the law and sees how things fit together."

Court of protection

Amanda Weston, Bethan Harris and Leonie Hirst are all ranked for their Court of Protection work.

Amanda Weston has much expertise of deprivation of liberty matters in particular. "She is well known in this field. She stands up for the little guy, and is a little street fighter who doesn't shut up when she is told to - she is so good."

Bethan Harris "works on all types of personal welfare cases within this field, including advising local authorities on their duties to safeguard vulnerable adults. She also acts for the Official Solicitor and family members. "She is very knowledgeable about mental capacity issues in general - her community care knowledge helps a great deal. She is very organised and persuasive in court, and is a solid negotiator with a conciliatory style."

Leonie Hirst enters the rankings following her involvement with some high-profile cases in this area in recent times. She has broad-based Court of Protection expertise. "A measured, solution-driven lawyer with exceptional client-handling skills."


Shu Shin Luh is well known in the field, particularly for her work with vulnerable children. She regularly acts for claimants in SENDIST, and in admissions, exclusions and disability discrimination matters. "Very committed and hard-working, she's always approachable and gives good practical advice. Shu Shin is "useful in cases with community care element," and is "zealous and committed."


Rebecca Hill has a strong extradition background, and covers a wide range of matters with a strong human rights dimension. "A very solid performer who is getting some good work."


Maggie Jones has a broad-ranging children practice and is well versed in complex public and private law disputes, as well as cases concerning immigration issues and foreign adoptions. "Tenacious and brilliant at cross-examination." "If your back is against the wall, she is a good person to have on your side."

Malek Wan Daud represents local authorities, parents and children in complex care disputes concerning non-accidental injuries. "Clients like him - he is very approachable and always manages to speak to people at a level they understand."

Local Government

Community care and housing matters are the bedrock of Stephen Knafler QC's impressive local authority. He is also accomplished at governance cases and disciplinary matters involving councillors. "He gets a ten out of ten for his academic and intellectual ability. He can always see all sides of the argument."

Inquests and Public Inquiries

Sean Horstead appears in coroners' inquests across the UK, acting on behalf of the families of those who have died in police custody, in prison or in connection with police vehicle pursuits. He continues to act pro bono when necessary. "Absolutely fantastic with clients, he gains their trust quickly. He's amazing in cross-examination and excellent at exposing the officers. He puts so much passion, energy and dedication into his work." "His client care is second to none and he knows how to handle a jury."

Leslie Thomas acts on coroners' inquests arising from police shootings, deaths in custody and deaths following contact with the police. He appears on behalf of bereaved families. "Anyone that does any inquest work will know him. He is a very impressive advocate."


Marc Willers is well known for acting for members of the Travelling communities in relation to planning, human rights and administrative law matters. "He is articulate and knows the law inside out." "He is the doyen of all things to do with Travellers, and always does a brilliant job for his client."

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.

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