We are delighted to announce that Sonali Naik QC and Una Morris have both been shortlisted at the UK Diversity Legal Awards 2018. An initiative of the Black Solicitors Network (BSN), the awards are the only industry awards which focus solely on recognising, promoting and celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion across the legal profession.
Sonali Naik QC has been shortlisted for the BSN Lawyer of the Year Award. Sonali has worked for over 25 years as a barrister and is a true leader in her fields of specialism of public law, immigration and asylum. She has been a member of Garden Court Chambers since 1998. Within these areas she has built a diverse practice covering access to justice, lawfulness of detention and deprivation of citizenship. A significant part of Sonali’s work concerns strategic litigation, often challenging Home Office policy, requiring considerable skill in evidential analysis, creative and innovative legal thinking and written and oral persuasion. Many of Sonali’s cases concern very vulnerable clients and involve highly complex, sensitive and difficult issues, often requiring urgent action due to the circumstances of the case. Sonali’s work has helped to shape and develop the law and includes work for asylum-seeking children, and victims of rape and torture.
Sonali’s exceptional record of bringing test litigation has continued unabated in 2018:
- She acts for an Afghan child in a widely reported judicial review after he was denied transfer to the UK when the “jungle camp” at Calais where he was living was demolished. She argues that the Home Office failed to comply with its duties under the ‘Dubs amendment’. Judgment is awaited.
- In April she appeared in the Supreme Court concerned with the interpretation of new statutory provisions relating to the assessment of children’s best interests’ in deportation appeals.
- In May, the Home Secretary – in the course of judicial review proceedings in which Sonali led - published amendments to his removals policy to admit express flexibility to cater for individual cases to addresses the right of access to legal representation and the courts to challenge removal, and, affecting thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers. The challenge continues as to whether the policy more broadly properly allows access to justice.
- In June, the High Court quashed the Home Secretary’s decisions to refuse the asylum claim and reject further submissions from an LGBT torture victim from Nigeria, following submissions from Sonali as leading counsel.
- She acts in a test case on the effectiveness of out of country appeals in the First-tier Tribunal and in the Upper Tribunal in a Country Guidance case on the safety of returns to Iran. Judgment is pending in both cases.
Sonali formerly worked in the NGO sector. She currently chairs Liberty, and is a trustee of Freedom from Torture, an Advisory Council member of JUSTICE, a trustee of the Immigrants’ Aid Trust (part of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) and a Patron of the Clean Break theatre company working with women ex-offenders. She became a QC in 2018.
Una Morris has been shortlisted for the BSN Rising Star Award. Una is a specialist civil liberties, human rights and public law practitioner with expertise including claims against the police and other public authorities, inquests and judicial review. She is regularly instructed to act for claimants in actions against the police and other public authorities. She has wide-ranging expertise across the full spectrum of torts, human rights, data and privacy claims. Una also acts for claimants in proceedings against private corporate bodies and other institutions.
Una has represented bereaved families in a number of very high-profile inquests over the past year, which have attracted national and local media coverage. Among her recent cases, Una acted for the family at the inquest of Dexter Bristol, a Windrush man who died suddenly after his uncertain immigration status prevented him from seeing his GP and having the right to work. The inquest concluded after his family walked out of the hearing in response to the coroner refusing to make the Home Office an interested person and refusing to explore the impact of the government’s hostile environment policies on the stress experienced by Mr Bristol. The family had obtained expert evidence which said that the stress surrounding Mr Bristol’s immigration status likely contributed to his demise. The case has received widespread media coverage including The Independent, Channel 4 News and the Guardian.
Una has worked hard to build up her practice, and has already acted on several notable actions against the police and inquests in particular. The Chambers UK Bar Guide echoes the comments of her clients and instructing solicitors when it describes her as “tenacious” and “fearless”.
The UK Diversity Legal Awards will be held on 21 November 2018 when the winners will be announced.