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James Packer , Duncan Lewis , Public Law Solicitor , Dalston

James Packer

Director & Solicitor

Profile / Experience

Awards Recommendation for James Packer
Legal 500 Chambers

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

Legal 500 2020 Edition.
Immigration: Human Rights, appeals & overstay / London

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

Legal 500 2020 Edition.
Administrative & Public Law / London

James Packer is listed as Recommended Lawyer in the 2019 edition of The Legal 500 for his work in Administrative & Public Law, London and is described as "...an outstanding lawyer who identifies points with ease and precision and thinks tactically."

Legal 500 2019 Edition.
Public Law / London

James Packer is a Recommended Lawyer in the 2019 edition of The Legal 500 for his work in Immigration: Human Rights and Overstay, London.

Legal 500 2019 Edition.
Immigration / London

"The brilliant James Packer specialises in Judicial Review."

Legal 500 2017 Edition.
Immigration: Human Rights, appeals & overstay / London

Ranked and recommended by Legal 500 2017 as a notable individual for Public Law.

Legal 500 2017 Edition.
Administrative & Public Law / London

James is ranked and recommended by Legal 500 2017 as a key name in Civil Liberties

Legal 500 2017 Edition.
Civil Liberties & Human Rights / London


Legal 500 2016 Edition.
Immigration: Human Rights, appeals & overstay / London

James Packer of Duncan Lewis & Co is praised by one source for being "very good at the minutiae, at understanding procedure with a very clear grasp of detail." Another notes him as "one of the most impressive solicitors in immigration work, running a high

Chambers UK 2016 Edition.
Immigration / London

James is also personally recommended in Legal 500 in the immigration category where he described as a 'top-level performer' with an 'exceptional grasp of detail'.

Legal 500 2015 Edition.
Immigration: Human Rights, appeals & overstay / London

Chambers & Partners Guides 2015- Immigration, London described James as 'Exceptionally diligent'. James has been recognised as a Leading Lawyer in the field of Immigration by Chambers UK 2014 & 2015 edition.

Chambers UK 2015 Edition.
Immigration / London

James is recommended in Chambers and Partners for his effective advocacy before immigration tribunals.

Chambers UK 2014 Edition.
Immigration / London


Legal 500 2013 Edition.
Immigration: Human Rights, appeals & overstay / London
I am a Director of the Public Law Department at Duncan Lewis. I supervise a team of solicitors, trainees and caseworkers all dedicated to representing the most vulnerable in society. I have been consistently recognised in in both Chambers and Partners as "exceptional" and The Legal 500, 2019 edition as an "outstanding lawyer" who "identifies points with ease and precision and thinks tactically". I am a Recommended Individual in the 2019 edition of The Legal 500 for my work in Public Law and Immigration. I have previously been ranked as a ‘Leading Individual’ in Chambers & Partners for Immigration. I initially trained as a barrister (called to the Bar in 1999) - sharing the civil litigation prize at Bar School, and subsequently joined Duncan Lewis, initially in the advocacy team. I was soon appointed supervisor, and began to practise in judicial review. I cross- qualified as a solicitor in 2007. I am now a head of department for Public Law, and a Director of the firm.

I litigate across a broad range of areas and regularly conduct test cases concerning issues that involve; access to the Courts, unlawful detention, enforced removals from the United Kingdom, challenges to decisions to refuse legal aid and associated litigation. I also have a specialist practice in complex immigration cases, especially for high net worth and high profile individuals; often referred to me by city solicitor firms. I am also constantly involved in appealing costs decisions, usually to the Court of Appeal.

I have extensive experience of cases which have been decided in the Administrative Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. I have also brought successful challenges to the European Court of Human Rights.

I have regular conduct of major test cases at the highest level, and have experience in a wide variety of judicial review litigation including; a current challenge to a decision to impose a planning levy on a development; a current challenge to Legal Aid regulations of very broad import; challenges to decisions in the Magistrate Court and the First-Tier Tribunal to adjourn (and in other cases, not to adjourn) proceedings; challenges to decisions by the Secretary of State for Justice to recall prisoners released on licence; a challenge to decision not to prosecute, challenges to the continuation of police bail, a challenge to a decision to refuse by the Architect’s Registration Board not to reverse an erasure order and a successful challenge to a decision by the SRA to simply send a ‘letter of advice’ to our client’s former solicitor. I also handled a challenge to the removal of a parking place for a disabled self-employed person, a challenge to a refusal to amend an Statement of Special Educational Needs, and challenges to local authority assessments such as housing and social security entitlements of various types.

I have conducted countless judicial reviews and appeals that have settled before a final hearing, and am frequently called upon in relation to; technical challenges to the powers of a court; adverse costs and other disciplinary communications from the Court, examples include;
  • Chelvan v Upper Tribunal – test case on wasted costs powers of the Tribunal. Settled after the Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal.
  • Abdulhamid & Ors - a group of cases that successfully challenged the Upper Tribunal’s practice of striking out judicial review claims for a minor infringement of the rules - related cases in the Court of Appeal on statutory appeal and in the Administrative Court. The Tribunal amended its practice, and the cases all settled prior to final hearings.
Additionally, I write articles for the leading Immigration Law blog Free Movement, as well as for other outlets including a leading article for the Solicitor’s Gazette. I have edited countless articles by other solicitors for publication, and I contributed the chapter on costs in the leading textbook ‘Criminal Judicial Review’ ed. Piers Von Berg. I assisted editing the e-book Costs in Immigration Cases (Colin Yeo). I have also appeared as a legal expert of Radio 5 (prisoner votes and the ECtHR), LBC (NHS charges for pregnant immigrants) and ABN (the Brexit cases). I am also a member of the Administrative Court User group which gives valuable insight into systemic issues.

I am accredited as a Supervisor and Level 3 (Advanced) Senior Caseworker under the Law Society's Immigration and Asylum Scheme. This means that I have shown that I have a high level of knowledge and experience in the area of Immigration law. There are only a small number of immigration practitioners throughout England & Wales that hold this quality mark. I also conduct accredited training in judicial review, costs and funding matters.


  • QLTT (cross-qualifying as a solicitor) 2006
  • Bar Vocational Course 1999
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies 1998
  • BA (Hons) Philosophy, Politics and Economics 1992


  • Director at Duncan Lewis 2008-present
  • Admitted as a Solicitor 2006
  • Duncan Lewis 2002-present
  • Legal consultant
  • Called to the Bar 1999


  • Recommended Individual - The Legal 500, 2019 edition - Administrative and Public Law/London
  • Recommended Individual - The Legal 500, 2019 edition - Immigration: Human Rights and Overstay/London
  • Recognised by Chambers and Partners 2015 for my services in Immigration law.
  • Recipient of the Civil Litigation Prize (Bar Vocational Course).

Notable Cases

Court of Appeal
  • JM (Zimbabwe) – [2018] EWCA Civ 218 - a successful Court of Appeal test case establishing that it is unlawful to prosecute for failure to cooperate in circumstances where the charge amounted to a refusal to lie

  • AB [2017] EWCA Civ 59 - an important test case about the correct approach where earlier decisions, although apparently lawful at the time are later shown to be flawed

  • NEA (Nigeria) – [2017] EWCA Civ 239 - Court of Appeal test case on the impact of new immigration rules.

  • King's Lynn and West Norfolk Council v Bunning [2016] EWCA Civ 1037 – challenge to refusal to award costs to a Defendant who successfully resists committal for contempt of court

  • ZA (Iraq) [2015] EWCA Civ 168 - an important success in the Court of Appeal, clarifying the basis of assessment of whether continuing immigration detention is ‘reasonable’

  • Seherwet [2015] EWCA Civ 1141 - a Court of Appeal decision that overturned a refusal to admit our client to the UK in order to address MPs and peers - the only judicial review ever to succeed on the basis that a refusal to allow a visit to the UK would breach Article 10 (freedom of expression)

  • Akpinar [2014] EWCA Civ 1363 - a Court of Appeal test case concerning the approach to the previous caselaw of the ECtHR following changes to deportation legislation

  • Gudanavicine [2014] EWCA Civ 352 - a landmark Court of Appeal decision that vastly improved access to legal aid where cases fall outside of mainstream legal aid funding

  • AL (Albania) [2012] EWCA Civ 710 - a Court of Appeal decision that held that the Bahta approach should apply equally to statutory appeals.

  • Bahta [2011] EWCA Civ 895 - a Court of Appeal decision that revised the costs rules where judicial review litigation settles prior to a final hearing.

  • Anwar & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] - EWCA Civ 1275 test case on the status of appeal decisions, where it later transpires that the court lacked jurisdiction.

  • Odelola [2009] UKHL 25 - a landmark House of Lords decision on the status and retrospective effect of the immigration rules.

Civil Court
  • TN (Vietnam) v SSHD - Test case on the effect of a legal representative withdrawing an appeal without the client's agreement. I was the advocate in the Upper Tribunal. Case Details

Membership & Accreditations

  • Level 3 (Advanced) Immigration & Asylum Scheme
  • Administrative Court User Group
  • ILPA


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