We are delighted to announce that our Luton-based public law director Bahar Ata is the winner of the Legal Expert Award at this year’s CILEx National Awards. Bahar was celebrated among countless CILEx members and stakeholders at yesterday’s ceremony in London, and was recognised for her excellent work and achievements over the last twelve months.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) is the professional association for Chartered Legal Executive lawyers, paralegals and other legal practitioners throughout England and Wales. The CILEx National Awards recognise individuals and teams that provide an exemplary service, advising and supporting those seeking access to justice. They celebrate the innovative recruitment and professional development practices that are widening access to a career in the legal profession to a more diverse audience.
With over ten years’ experience in the areas of immigration and public law, Bahar is a true advocate for human rights who cares passionately about giving her clients a voice and ensuring that vulnerable members of society have the support they need in order to access the justice they deserve. She is recognised in The Legal 500 2019 edition as having “…understanding of immigration issues, especially asylum support and EEA law, is second to none”.
Her commitment to quality and excellence is evident in her involvement in numerous notable cases, including the recent case of Hemmati & Ors, R (on the application of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 2122 where the Court of Appeal delivered a landmark judgment concerning the detention of asylum seekers under Dublin III Regulations. The case has since been heard by the Supreme Court in July 2019 and is awaiting judgment.
Her excellence and dedication to society’s most vulnerable is further demonstrated by the lasting implications the results of many of her cases have had on society as a whole. She represented clients in lead litigations challenging removals to Bulgaria and Hungary with the High Court’s judgment in Ibrahimi & Anor v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2049 being the only case of its kind where the Secretary of State accepted the court’s decision. Significantly, as of 2016, there have been no removals to Hungary from the UK under these regulations – a direct result of Bahar’s exceptional level of technical knowledge and expertise in this area of law.
Bahar’s efforts not only affect the lives of her clients but have had a direct impact on the development of the public law department at our Luton office. As head of public law and immigration at the branch, she supervises a team of lawyers and has expanded her team of three to a fully-fledged department of 20, making it one of the fastest growing offices in the firm. She has set an impeccable example for the next generation of lawyers in her impressive case results, and actively contributes to their development by providing regular training within her department and sharing her expertise with her team.
She has also been instrumental in setting up the firm’s dedicated bail team whose focus is to represent those detained under immigration powers as well as bring challenges against the Secretary of State for the Home Department for unlawful detention and false imprisonment claims. She and her team continue to challenge the Home Office’s conduct in respect to clients seeking bail and the failure to provide accommodation.
Bahar was shortlisted for the same award at last year’s CILEx Awards and it is wonderful to see her hard work be recognised and rewarded this year. Bahar commented on her win;
“It is an honour to receive this award. For me be able to practise in an area of law I feel so passionate about and to be recognised for my work by my firm through their nomination and by CILEx through this awards is an absolute privilege."
Winning the Legal Expert Award is a natural summarisation of the work, commitment, and innovation Bahar has shown in the last year and throughout her time at Duncan Lewis Solicitors. We offer huge congratulations to Bahar on her fantastic and deserved achievement and applaud all of the other winners and nominees at the 2019 CILEx National Awards.