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Sulaiha Ali , Duncan Lewis , Public Law Solicitor , City of London

Sulaiha Ali


Contact Information

Profile / Experience

Awards and Recommendations for Sulaiha Ali
Legal 500

Sulaiha is a Recommended Lawyer in the 2021 edition of The Legal 500.

Legal 500 2021 Edition.
Public sector - Civil liberties and human rights / London

Sulaiha is a Recommended Lawyer in the 2020 edition of The Legal 500.

Legal 500 2020 Edition.
Immigration: Human Rights, appeals & overstay / London
I am a Solicitor and Supervisor within the Public Law Department at Duncan Lewis. I specialise in a wide range of immigration related judicial review matters, with a particular interest in refugee law, gender based violence and immigration detention.

I am ranked as a 'Recommended Lawyer' in the 2021 edition of The Legal 500 for my Administrative and Public law work and also the 2020 edition for my work in Immigration and Human Rights. I was also The Times 'Lawyer of the Week' for my work on a Deportation appeal that resulted in the 'bring back' of my client to the UK, which the Secretary of State was directed to fund and facilitate.

I am dedicated to providing representation to those who are most in need, meaning the majority of my work is carried out under legal aid. I also work closely with several charitable organisations and female refuges in order to assist victims of gender and sexual based violence in order and ensure that these women have sufficient access to justice.

Whilst I am committed to challenging the Secretary of State's unlawful actions by way of judicial review, I remain heavily involved with my clients' underlying asylum and protection based claims and am driven to achieving successful outcomes in all cases.

My accreditation as a Level 2 Senior Caseworker under the Law Society's Immigration and Asylum Scheme means I have shown that I have specialist knowledge and experience in this area of law and can advise and assist publicly funded clients under Duncan Lewis' legal aid contract.


  • Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice (LPC)
  • LLB (Hons) - University of Reading


  • Supervisor at Duncan Lewis, December 2014–present
  • Solicitor at Duncan Lewis, August 2014-present
  • Trainee Solicitor at Duncan Lewis, November 2012-August 2014
  • Caseworker at Duncan Lewis, November 2011–November 2012


  • "Since my first meeting with Sulaiha, she has been invaluable to us as an organisation setting the bar high. We have not wanted to go anywhere else and have referred all our women to her. She has never turned a case down, even when I know she is really busy. Apart from demonstrating her expert knowledge regarding domestic violence and immigration work, Sulaiha treats women with great kindness and sensitivity. Sulaiha understands how hard it is for women to make detailed statements and so provides them with a safe and supported atmosphere for them to be able to speak about the physical, sexual and humiliating abuse they have experienced. This takes skill and compassion. This excellent work has resulted in every one of the our women being successful with their cases." – Janet Connor, Refugee support worker at Each/DePaul Refuges

  • "Sulaiha is an excellent lawyer, who is truly dedicated to her clients. Her skilled case preparation is second to none: she is tactical, effective and above all, empathetic. She really shines in her representation of vulnerable clients, and is able to cultivate relationships of trust in even the most challenging of circumstances" - Emma Fitzsimons of Garden Court Chambers.

  • "I have worked with Sulaiha on numerous cases over the years. She is a talented, no-nonsense solicitor focused on getting the best outcome for all her clients. She's down to earth, professional, and brings genuine value to the team." - Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers

  • "I do not have enough words to express my gratitude to Sulaiha. All I can say is that she is Duncan Lewis' greatest asset ever. Her professionalism and commitment to work and clients are things that I experienced from day one. May the one above bless her abundantly. Thank you. Enkosi in my own language." - Client, Bulelwa.
  • "Sulaiha has dealt with very complex and difficult cases for our residents at Stonewater Asian Womens Refuge and been able to deliver postive outcomes for the clients too. These cases were rejected by other firms as a no hope case, but Sulaiha took it as a challenge and explored areas that other firms overlooked. She has given a second chance for our residents to live their lives with hope and freedom." Support Worker at Stonewater Womens Refuge.

  • "Sulaiha was extremely supportive in helping the families to get their indefinite leave to remain. Her approach is one of excellence. She was proactive and responded promptly to our inquiries. Every case she dealt with had a successful outcome. She went out of her way to support us at a time when we were very desperate, for this we are so grateful. We miss working with Sulaiha and in my 15 years of working in the sector I have not met many people who conduct themselves with the level of professionalism as Sulaiha." - Manager at Stonewater Womens Refuge.


  • Recommended Lawyer - The Legal 500, 2021 edition - Civil liberties and human rights/London
  • Recommended Lawyer - The Legal 500, 2020 edition - Immigration: Human Rights, appeals & overstay
  • Winner of the 'Rising Star - Private Practice Award' at the British Legal Awards 2020
  • Shortlisted for the 'Outstanding Achievement in Law' award at the GG2 Leadership Awards 2019
  • Shortlisted for the 'Rising Star' at the Society of Asian Lawyers Awards 2019
  • The Times' 'Lawyer of the Week' - 16 May 2019

Notable Cases

Court of Appeal
  • PN v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1213 - Court of Appeal dismissed Secretary of State's appeal and found that PN had an unfair asylum appeal that had been processed under the Detained Fast Track Procedure Rules (2005). Court of Appeal also allowed PN's appeal in part, finding that she had been unlawfully detained for a period of four months.

  • MR & Ors v Secretary of State for Justice and Secretary of State for the Home Department - [CO/2701/2018] - Ongoing appeal at the Court of Appeal concerning a point of wide importance: potentially vulnerable immigration detainees detained in the prison estate are not afforded the same safeguards that would lead to their identification and release as are made available to those detained in Immigration Removal Centres. The Appellants argue that that the lacuna in the scheme governing the detention of vulnerable persons (inter alia victims of torture or those suffering from mental ill-health) detained under immigration legislation within the prison estate is inherently unfair/unreasonable, amounts to unlawful discrimination in breach of article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and is an unlawful breach of the Equality Act 2010. Permission to appeal was granted in June 2020 and remains ongoing at the Court of Appeal.

  • AS (Afghanistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department C5/2016/0133 – Respondent conceded to the Claimant’s application in the eleventh hour and agreed that the Upper Tribunal may have erred in upholding the First-tier Tribunal determination in circumstances where the Respondent had failed to appraise the Tribunal of key policy position that was material to the issues falling for determination on appeal.

High Court
  • JS & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department - Challenge to the Immigration Rules and Family Reunion policy which excludes child refugees from being able to sponsor applications for their parents and siblings to join them in the UK. Claim remains ongoing at the Administrative Court.

  • IJ v Secretary of State for the Home Department - Challenge to the Secretary of State's Permission to Work Policy which only provides asylum seekers with an illusory right to work. Claim remains ongoing at the Administrative Court.

  • Elias v Secretary of State for the Home Department - Successful challenge against the SSHD's refusal to grant Indefinite Leave to Remain ('ILR') in the UK to client who had completed five years leave to remain as a refugee, on the basis that he had entered the UK on false documentation. This challenge was conceded on the eve of trial by the SSHD, who agreed that the refusal to grant ILR amounted to a breach in the UK's obligations to Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.

  • CP (Vietnam) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 2122 (Admin) – Administrative Court allowed the Claimant’s Judicial Review and found that the SSHD had failed to protect a potential victim of trafficking (PVOT), unlawfully concluded he was not a victim of trafficking and, following his conviction for the cultivation of cannabis, unlawfully detained him and unreasonably delayed in determining whether he had been trafficked.

  • R (on the application of) ROO (Nigeria) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 1295 (Admin) (25 May 2018) - The Secretary of State's decision to certify the claimant's asylum claim under s 96(2)(c) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 had been one which had failed properly to address and exercise the Secretary of State's discretion in the way required of a reasonable decision-maker. The Administrative Court further held that the Secretary of State's decision to refuse to accept that the additional supplied material had amounted to a fresh claim had been unreasonable.

  • R (on the application of Ibidokun) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 3178 - Case concerned the unlawful detention of the claimant who had made an asylum claim shortly after being detained. Despite being told that his claim would be dealt with ‘quickly’, there was a considerable delay in the Defendant’s processing of the Claimant’s asylum claim. The Administrative court ruled that his detention was unlawful, for a period between 14 March and 9 June 2017. The Claimant is currently pursuing an appeal at the Court of Appeal to challenge the remaining periods of his detention that were considered to be lawful.

  • R (oao) JM & Ors v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 2331 - The Secretary of State for the Home Department conceded that the Detained Fast-Track process created an unacceptable risk of unfairness to vulnerable or potentially vulnerable individuals. Further, the Secretary of State conceded that the process as a whole created an unacceptable risk of failure to identify those whose claims were unsuitable for a quick decision within the Detained Fast-Track process.

Civil Court
  • R (Watson) v SSHD and FTT (Extant appeal: s94B challenge: forum) [2018] UKUT 165 (IAC) – Test case to consider the effectiveness of out of country appeals for those deported prior to the Supreme Court’s judgment in Kiarie and Byndloss. The Applicant was successful in his application to argue that he could not have a fair hearing from outside of the UK. In the first case of its kind, the Upper Tribunal directed the SSHD to fund and facilitate the return of the Applicant to the United Kingdom, in circumstances where he had been denied the opportunity to obtain the ‘best evidence’ relating to the best interests of his British children.

Membership & Accreditations

  • Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association
  • Member of 'INHeRE: Inclusive holistic care for refugee and migrant victims of sexual violence in Belgium, UK and Ireland'
  • Member of 'Taskforce on Victims of Trafficking in Immigration Detention'
  • Level 2 Supervisory Accredited, Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme


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