Stephanie Harrison appointed Queen's Counsel

Friday 1 March 2013

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that minority rights and civil liberties champion Stephanie Harrison is to be appointed as Queen's Counsel.

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Stephanie is well known for her broad public law practice and expertise in asylum human rights, especially in cases involving unlawful detention, national security and terrorism related cases, equality and discrimination and protest rights.

The appointment comes just four months after Stephanie was awarded Human Rights and Public Law Junior of the Year by Chambers & Partners.

Of 183 applications for silk, Stephanie is one of just 80 barristers, and one of just 13 women to receive the award.

Senior Clerk Colin Cook said "This is absolutely fantastic news for Stephanie and for Garden Court. Stephanie has always worked tirelessly to achieve the best results for all those who instruct her. She has a formidable reputation in terms of advocacy and advice work and has been at the top of the tree in her areas of specialism for many years. There can be no doubt that in silk she will keep her place as one of the country's leading public law lawyers."

Stephanie said "I treat my appointment as Queen's Counsel as a recognition of the complexity and importance of the law relating to the treatment of refugees and migrants who have faced an onslaught of increasingly repressive, abusive and discriminatory measures throughout the 20 years of my practice. This has been at the hands of successive governments pursuing a populist prejudice with little if any regard for the fundamental rights of these ethnic and religious minorities including the most vulnerable amongst them: victims of torture and sex trafficking, unaccompanied children and the mentally ill. It is of grave concern that the current Coalition government has taken the unprecedented step of excluding from April 2013 immigration cases concerning the rights of families and children from public funding altogether so that these important cases will not receive the high quality legal advice and representation they require and which has been provided by dedicated publicly funded lawyers with whom I have had the privilege to work.

"It must also be of concern to the profession as a whole that I am only one of twenty six women who applied for silk this year of whom only thirteen out of the eighty were appointed. This can only reflect the obstacles in the way of women pursuing their careers at the Bar on an equal footing with men. The panel does not even record the social class of applicants but it can be assumed that it continues to be drawn from a narrow social class of the privileged and privately educated.

"Garden Court Chambers set the bench mark for providing excellence in the representation of refugees and migrants as well as opportunity for those with diverse backgrounds to pursue a career as a barrister. Equal access to the law as a client or as a career has been the hallmark of our work at Garden Court and my practice within it. We will need to re-double our efforts as both come under increasing attack."

The award has been made by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on the advice of an independent panel unconnected to the Bar Council or government. Stephanie will formally take silk when she makes her declaration before the Lord Chancellor at a ceremony on 27 March 2013.

To read more about Stephanie Harrison's background and practice, visit her profile.

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