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The Times’ Lawyer of the Week: Public Law Solicitor Sulaiha Ali (16 May 2019)

Date: 16/05/2019
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, The Times’ Lawyer of the Week: Public Law Solicitor Sulaiha Ali

We are proud to announce that Public Law Supervisor and Solicitor Sulaiha Ali based in our Harrow office, has been named The Times’ Lawyer of the Week for her WW case. In what is believed to be the first successful case of its kind, Mr Justice Lane and Upper Tribunal Judge O’Connor have directed the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) to fund and facilitate the return of our client (WW) 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 in his human rights appeal.

Sulaiha challenged the SSHD’s refusal to return an individual who had been deported in the wake of the SSHD’s ‘deport now, appeal later’ policy: R (on the application of Watson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [HU/22903/2018]. WW was removed to Jamaica almost 3 years ago in accordance with the SSHD’s “deport first, appeal later” provision under s.94B of the Nationality Immigration Asylum Act 2002. After his removal, the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Kiarie and Byndloss [2017] UKSC 42 held that requiring a person to bring a human rights challenge to his deportation from abroad, would give rise to a breach of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Art 8 as an out-of-country appeal would not be effective.

Sulaiha used evidence to illustrate why the appeal could not proceed fairly while the Appellant was outside the UK. The Upper Tribunal’s consideration of the procedural fairness issues was fact specific, and found in the Applicant’s favour as to why his appeal could not be effective while he was outside the UK.

Despite this, the SSHD refused to return Watson to the UK, after hearing submissions from both parties, the SSHD was directed to fund and facilitate Watson’s return to the UK as soon as practicable, so that his appeal could be considered de novo, where any appeal submissions made by the SSHD would be entertained at a rolled up hearing.

For full details of this case: please click here.

This case was particularly challenging and demanding, but Sulaiha took this in her stride and skilfully handed this case, alongside Philip Armitage of the Harrow Public Law team, instructing counsel Sonali Naik QC, Bijan Hoshi and Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers.

About Sulaiha Ali

Sulaiha has achieved an impressive portfolio of successful cases. She specialises in immigration related judicial review cases, focussing on trafficking claims, refugee law and immigration detention. She is dedicated to representing those in need and so her entire caseload is carried out under legal aid.

With extensive experience litigation across a range of areas, Sulaiha regularly conducts high profile challenges to unlawful practices and policies that affect some of society’s most vulnerable people. She is committed to challenging the Secretary of State’s unlawful decision making practices by way of judicial review and is heavily involved in her client’s underlying asylum and protection claims.

Whilst exceptionally committed to individual clients, Sulaiha also focusses on cases with a wider application. The lead solicitor in in R (on the application of MR & Ors v (1) Secretary of State for Justice and (2) Secretary of State for the Home Department, a group litigation for potentially vulnerable immigration detainees detained in the prison estate who are not afforded the same safeguards as available to those in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). The potential implications of this challenge are significant as it affects the current immigration detention of numerous people in prison and is likely, if successful, to lead to legislative changes.

She also successfully challenged the SSHD’s previous Detained Fast-Track process for asylum claims (JM & Ors), which led the SSHD to concede that the process created an unacceptable risk on unfairness to vulnerable or potentially vulnerable individuals. The SSHD also conceded that the process created an unacceptable risk of failure to identify those whose claims were unsuitable for a quick decision.
Sulaiha commented on her achievement;

“It is an absolute honour to have been chosen by the Times as Lawyer of the Week. I am particularly grateful that our work under legal aid has been recognised for having profound implications for a wider cohort of people, having been one of the first cases following the Supreme Court judgment in Kiarie and Byndloss to order the bring back of an individual to the UK. I share this recognition with not only counsel and my colleague Philip Armitage who assisted in this case, but also with my fellow colleagues who undertake complex litigation on a daily basis in order to challenge the injustices that our clients face in the current political climate.”

Being named The Time’s Lawyer of the Week is a huge achievement and we are thrilled that Sulaiha’s hard work in this complex matter has been recognised and rewarded. Read her full interview here.

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