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“A people’s barrister, with empathy and making sure clients are comfortable.”

Legal 500 2020

Bernadette has a busy practice with a focus on immigration, asylum and judicial review. She is committed to representing publicly funded and vulnerable clients and is experienced in doing so in all areas of her practice.

Bernadette is ranked as a leading junior in the Legal 500, which notes that “She really is a people’s barrister’, with empathy and making sure clients are comfortable” (2020).

Before coming to the bar, Bernadette volunteered in immigration and housing for two and a half years at Lambeth Law Centre. For the final year she worked as a senior immigration caseworker as well as being involved in providing outreach immigration advice to a domestic violence charity.

Prior to pupillage Bernadette developed an interest in restorative justice and mediation while volunteering on youth referral order panels for a couple of years as a panel chair, facilitating discussions with young people about reparation and minimising the risk of reoffending.

She was involved in the launch of Evolve – Foundation for International Legal Assistance and has been involved in its ongoing work, preparing written submissions for criminal appeals and re-sentencing in Uganda.

Immigration & asylum

Bernadette’s interest in and passion for this area of law grew during the time she spent as a volunteer at Lambeth Law Centre. She is committed to representing legally aided clients.

Bernadette advises and represents in the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal, in appeals involving immigration, asylum and human rights, Article 8 ECHR, deportation, EEA applications, entry clearance, nationality law including deprivation of citizenship, domestic violence, unaccompanied children and business and immigration law. Bernadette can also advise and draft challenges to refusals that attract a right of administrative review. She also advises and acts in judicial review in this area.

Bernadette can accept instructions directly from members of the public who wish to make investor, entrepreneur, student, entry clearance and family reunion visa applications. She can assist at all stages of the application.

Having gained extensive experience of criminal law during pupillage, her cross over knowledge and expertise in criminal defence is valuable in deportation cases.

Recent cases

  • MU v SSHD DA/00430/2017: The EEA Appellant was convicted of death by dangerous driving, sentenced to six years and banned from driving until 2022. She did not have permanent residence. Where the risk of reoffending was associated with driving, Bernadette argued that an appellant could not be a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat if banned from driving and expressing an intention to never drive again.  The First-tier Tribunal accepted this and the SSHD appealed.  The SSHD was given permission to appeal on fairly wide ranging grounds relating to the failure to properly assess risk and a failure to cite and have proper regard to Schedule 1 of the 2016 Regulations (concerning the fundamental interests of society).  The FtTJ was entitled to come to the conclusion about risk taking into account the meaning of medium risk of harm explained in the OASys.  There remains a question mark over how Schedule 1 interacts with the relevant Regulations and how it should be taken into account so as not to undermine the Directive.
  • AB v Secretary of State for the Home Department HU/16552/2017: Bernadette appeared as junior counsel in the deportation appeal.  The appellant’s history was complex, spanning over 30 years and the appeal was supported by multiple medico-legal reports, some of which had been subjected to criticism in previous proceedings, and objective country evidence.  The case was allowed under article 3 ECHR. An unsuccessful deprivation of citizenship appeal may impact on any future deportation appeal: the stronger the Article 8 and/or 3 case, the less likely it will be that the reasonably foreseeable consequences of deprivation will include removal from the United Kingdom.  Although any such conclusions will not tie the hands of the tribunal in a deportation appeal, it is a significant factor to consider.
  • TA v Secretary of State for the Home Department HU/27666/2016: The appellant argued that it was an irrelevant factor when considering whether she had been trafficked, that she had chosen not to be referred through the NRM process, particularly when she had concerns about being dispersed because she was trying to maintain her accommodation to avoid disrupting her children’s lives.  The tribunal accepted the Appellant’s decision refusing to participate in the NRM did not prevent the tribunal reaching its own decision (by reference to ES (s82 NIA 2002; negative NRM) Albania[2018] UKUT 00335 and AUJ (Trafficking – no conclusive grounds decision) Bangladesh[2018] UKUT 00200) and went on to accept the Appellant’s account and make positive findings that she was trafficked.
  • TK v SSHD PA/08157/2016: The appellant claimed asylum from India. After successfully judicially reviewing the SSHD’s decision to certify TK’s claim the SSHD refused the application with an in country right of appeal.  This was an unusual appeal from a Tibetan who had resided since childhood in India; it was eventually allowed after being remitted de novo by the Upper Tribunal.  The Home Office guidance note in respect of India suggested there would normally be sufficiency of protection for religious minorities but it was not an absolute principle.  The appellant was an active follower of Dorje Shugden, and as such practiced a minority religion within the minority exiled Tibetan community.  There was no sufficiency of protection for him and no internal relocation option given he was part of the exiled Tibetan community in India and would have to remain in contact with the Central Tibetan Authority wherever he resided in India.
  • FA & six others v Secretary of State for the Home Department HU/11128/2016: The Upper Tribunal allowed this appeal in a family reunion case where document verification reports were produced on the morning of the hearing alleging that the birth certificates and marriage certificate previously submitted were false documents.  The Upper Tribunal agreed that the First-tier Tribunal had failed to identify that after an appellant raises a prima facie case the burden shifts to the SSHD to prove deception.  It is material the SSHD only provided verification reports in respect of two of the appellants and the reports that were provided were unreferenced and unsupported by further evidence, leading to procedural unfairness.  The allegation of deception was not made out. The appeals were allowed.
  • AB (British citizenship: deprivation; Deliallisi considered) Nigeria [2016] UKUT 451: Bernadette acted as junior counsel in this case which held that in deprivation appeals the tribunal must consider the reasonably foreseeable consequences of deprivation. In determining the reasonably likely consequences of deprivation, it is plainly important to consider what the respondent is, in fact, likely to do in those circumstances.  The tribunal must take a view as to whether, from its present vantage point, there is likely to be force in any challenge to deportation that the appellant can be expected to bring. The stronger the case, the less likely it will be that the reasonably foreseeable consequences of deprivation will include removal from the United Kingdom.
  • SH v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2014): Following successful judicial review action against the failure to make an asylum decision over many years, the Secretary of State granted a period of discretionary leave to the appellant, who had serious mental health problems.  Following a successful upgrade appeal the tribunal accepted that owing to the appellant’s considerable learning difficulties, he should be treated as akin to a child and granted asylum.

Pro bono

Bernadette regularly does pro bono work for immigration clients.

Between 2012 and 2015 she acted pro bono for the University of Law (ULaw) bail project which assists detainees who are often vulnerable and have been detained for long periods of time.  She also provided representation for the Article 8 Deportation Advice Project (ADAP). The purpose of the project is to provide legal advice and representation to individuals who have been convicted of criminal offences and who are challenging deportation on Article 8 grounds, and where they are otherwise without assistance due to the absence of legal aid.

During 2013 she provided regular pro bono assistance to the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU).

Prior to coming to the Bar Bernadette volunteered for over two years with Lambeth Law Centre, working as a senior caseworker for the last year. She continued to volunteer, helping with enquiries, during pupillage and assisted on some pro bono matters during 2015 and 2016.

Public law & judicial review

Bernadette acts for clients in judicial review proceedings in both the immigration tribunal and the Administrative Court in all areas of immigration and asylum law, such as refusals of further submissions and unlawful detention.

She is also able to accept instructions in non-immigration related matters.

Bernadette is able to accept instructions for emergency injunctions and to act at short notice to challenge decisions for removal or deportation.

Recent cases

  • R (on the application of TLJ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2016): This was a challenge to a decision of the SSHD not to recognise that TLJ, a Jamaican, had acquired indefinite leave to remain by virtue of being settled in the UK on 1st January 1973. TLJ was only able provide documentary evidence dating back to September 1973. He filled in the gaps in documentary evidence with witness statements from family members. The SSHD had not retained entry clearance or any other records.  The SSHD refused the application on the basis that the witness statements were not acceptable documentary evidence. She settled the claim in TLJ’s favour upon being challenged and agreed to remake the decision. In the meantime TLJ submitted further witness statements from friends. The SSHD refused the application broadly for the same reasons. TLJ issued a second challenge and the SSHD withdrew the decision again and this time remade the decision granting leave, evidently accepting the witness statement evidence was evidence that she should have taken into account.
  • TK v Secretary of State for the Home Department JR/7045/2015: In 2015 TK applied for asylum and the SSHD certified his asylum claim under section 94(3) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 on the basis  he had lawfully resided as a Tibetan exile under the administration of the Central Tibetan Administration in India.  TK wanted to instruct an expert to adduce evidence that he was at risk if returned to India.  The SSHD resisted at every stage his request to be allowed time to provide evidence to substantiate his case. Permission was refused on the papers and the application described as a “fishing expedition”. When permission was granted at an oral renewal hearing the SSHD consented to reconsider the case, finally agreeing that it would be procedurally unfair to prevent TK obtaining expert evidence.
  • R (on the application of CW) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2013): judicial review proceedings successfully resulted in a grant of leave for the claimant.  This case began as a challenge against removal directions and the failure to accept further submissions as a fresh claim, but developed following disclosure from UKBA that the claimant had previously made a human rights application which had never been decided.

Family

Bernadette has experience acting for vulnerable clients in the family courts and is able to accept instructions in a range of areas, including contact and residence, care proceedings, ancillary relief and cases with a domestic violence element.

Education

  • BA (Hons) Drama and Theatre Studies (First)
  • MSc International Relations (Merit)
  • Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction)
  • Bar Vocational Course

Scholarships

  • Wilfred Watson Scholarship Award (Gray’s Inn, 2008)
  • Overseas Internship Scholarship Award (Gray’s Inn, 2011)

Seminars

  • July 2013: ‘Strategic Case Preparation’
  • February 2013: ‘Long Term Immigration Detention – What Right to Liberty?’

Languages

  • Spanish (intermediate).
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