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Blackstone Chambers has extensive and wide-ranging expertise in rights protection issues.

Chambers has developed a strong practice in international-facing equality and anti-discrimination litigation, whilst several of our members have been appointed to the EU Equality and Human Rights Commission Panel of Counsel. Others have advised on the development and application of the UN’s Guiding Principles for business and human rights, as well as appearing as counsel in litigation resulting from alleged violations.

Several, too, are recognised experts in immigration and refugee law, having taught, published widely and carried out substantial pro bono work in these areas — acting on behalf of vulnerable individuals and the organisations representing them including UNHCR, AsylumAid and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. These members routinely provide advice on refugee law and policy, including in the context of the ongoing so-called ‘migration crisis’.

Case Studies:

Training UK government officials on human rights overseas

Training course delivered to HMG policymakers, diplomats and military personnel to enable them to assess the human rights implications of a variety of case study scenarios, including issues relating to extraterritoriality. 

(Naina Patel, in her former role as Director of Education and Training at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law).

Advising on improvements to the supervision of the Refugee Convention

 In 2012, Jason Pobjoy directed a project examining how the Refugee Convention could be better supervised in response to the absence of an independent process seeking ensure the coherent interpretation of international refugee law by state parties. This project culminated in a roundtable held at the University of Cambridge involving eleven leading judges, academics and UNHCR representatives. Issues discussed included assessment of the need for improved supervision of the Convention and lessons from existing supervisory mechanisms in international and regional law. These gave rise to the publication of Summary Conclusions recommending the establishment within UNHCR of a Special Committee of Experts tasked with issuing Advisory Opinions on the interpretation and application of the convention. (Jason Pobjoy).

Projects:

Assistance to Bahrain on compliance with international standards on freedom of expression

Scoping study conducted in January 2013, with subsequent work including review of the legislation, cross-country comparative analysis, suggestion of legislative amendments and training of judges and prosecutors. (Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC and Naina Patel, in their respective former roles as Director and Director of Education and Training at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law)

Support to Uganda’s implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the the Child

Data gathering, over three months, on the circumstances of 82 unaccompanied refugee children and assessment of gaps in their protection. This has been followed, more recently, by the award of a grant from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to support the development of a detailed database of refugee children. (Jason Pobjoy, in his former role as Research Associate at the Refugee Law Project at Makere University in Kampala)

Cases:

Foreign and security

R (Lord Carlile of Berriew and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] A.C. 945

Challenge to a decision by the Secretary of State to maintain the exclusion of dissident Iranian politician Maryam Rajavi from the UK. Mrs Rajavi had sought entry to speak, at the invitation of the Parliamentary appellants, on the subject of democracy and human rights in Iran at the Palace of Westminster. She was excluded on the basis of the risk to Britain’s relations with Iran. Resulted in the provision of important judgments on how courts are to judge the proportionality of interferences with fundamental ECHR Rights (freedom of expression) in the context of decisions raising foreign policy issues. (Lord Pannick QC and Harry Adamson)

Al Rawi & ors v Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service & Ors [2011] UKSC 34; [2012] 1 AC 531

Acted for JUSTICE/Liberty in this appeal from [2010] EWCA Civ 482 and [2009] EWHC 2959 on the question of whether the Government may withhold sensitive evidence from several former victims of extraordinary rendition and torture in civil claims for damages but rely on that evidence in closed proceedings. (Michael Fordham QC, John Howell QC and Naina Patel)

C v Secretary of State for Defence

Alleged breach of ECHR Article 2 right to life due to the deaths of his immediate family from drone strikes. (Shaheed Fatima and Harry Adamson)

Equality and anti-discrimination

Orozco v Attorney General of Belize [2012-2013] Belize High Court

Constitutional challenge to criminalisation of homosexuality. Counsel for Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Human Dignity Trust and International Commission of Jurists. Tim has subsequently acted in a similar constitutional challenge to the criminalisation of consensual homosexual conduct in the High Court of Singapore. (Tim Otty QC)

Tariq v Home Office [2011] UKSC 35; [2012] 1 AC 452

Acted for JUSTICE/Liberty in this appeal regarding the compatibility of the closed material in employment proceedings with Article 6 ECHR and EU law, brought on the context of a claim for racial and religious discrimination (John Howell QC and Naina Patel).

Business and human rights

Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) v the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) [2013]

Dispute under Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines relating to the foreign conduct of a Kazakh-owned multinational natural resources and mining group based in UK. Complaint filed on behalf of villagers living on ENRC-owned mining concessions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with with allegations relating to site security arrangements, ENRC’s management of risks associated with its interactions with miners, and the prolonged unavailability of drinking water following rioting (Ben Jaffey).

Immigration and asylum

Secretary of State for the Home Department v Al-Jedda  [2013] UKSC 62

After more than 5 years of litigation, the Supreme Court confirmed that taking away British citizenship is impermissible if it results in statelessness. The Secretary of State had previously decided that Mr Al-Jedda should be deprived of British citizenship on conducive to public good grounds. Under section 40(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981, that power could not be exercised if the Secretary of State was, ‘satisfied that the order would make a person stateless’. The Court of Appeal ([2012] EWCA Civ 358) had subsequently found that, according to Iraqi law, Mr Al-Jedda automatically lost his Iraqi citizenship when he was granted British citizenship in 2000. (Guy Goodwin-Gill)

R (Bashir) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2015, pending)

Challenge to the decision of the Secretary of State  to refuse admission to the UK Acting for six families of recognised refugees residing in the UK Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, challenging the (Jason Pobjoy and Tom Hickman).


Clerks

Staff