Category: News

1MCB Chambers is moving

We are pleased to announce that, as of 16th May 2022, 1MCB Chambers will be relocating to 5 Chancery Lane.

Located in the heart of legal London, our new premises is just a few minutes’ walk from the Central line and offers much improved conference facilities as well as a modern and efficient working environment for our barristers and staff.

Our telephone numbers and DX address will remain unchanged.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new home.

 

Trial of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman to open at the ICC

Tomorrow, 5th April 2022, the trial of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman will open at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Iain Edwards is appointed as associate counsel for the defence.

Mr Abd-Al-Rahman is accused of having been a notorious commander of the Arab militia in Darfur, Sudan commonly known as the Janjaweed. He is charged with 31 counts of murder, rape, forcible transfer, persecution and torture as crimes against humanity, and numerous war crimes, all arising out of the conflict in West Darfur between August 2003 and April 2004.

One of the key issues in the case is the accused’s identity. Most witnesses are expected to testify that the Janjaweed commander was a man called Ali Kushayb. The prosecution claims that Mr Abd-Al-Rahman and Ali Kushayb are the same person but this assertion is vehemently denied.

The prosecution will call or otherwise rely on approximately 125 witnesses. Mr Abd-Al-Rahman has pleaded not guilty to all counts and the trial itself is likely to last for well over a year.

This case is the first at the ICC to deal with the conflict in Darfur. It is also the first case to be referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council in respect of a State (Sudan) that is not a party to the Court’s Statute. This has provided a unique opportunity for the defence to advance novel jurisdictional challenges.

The trial will be webstreamed via the ICC website and the ICC YouTube channel.

 

 

1MCB Chambers statement on ‘no returns’

1MCB Chambers’ Crime Team will not be accepting returns from 11th April 2022, in line with the Criminal Bar Association’s ballot.

The government’s proposals fall far short of the recommendations made by the independent Criminal Legal Aid Review, which calls for an immediate increase in remuneration of at least 15% and additional funding to save the criminal justice system from continued decay.

We thank our solicitor colleagues who have contacted us to offer their support as we take this necessary action to safeguard the future of our profession and of the criminal justice system.

Judicial appointment: Rafaquat Hussain

1MCB Chambers congratulates associate member Rafaquat Hussain on his appointment as District Judge.

Rafaquat will sit at Edmonton County Court, with effect from 7th February 2022, having previously sat as a fee paid judge in both the Social Entitlement Chamber and the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal.

 

 

Asylum seekers challenge Home Secretary’s secret policy to seize mobile phones

This week, the High Court is hearing a claim brought by three asylum seekers in which they challenge the Home Secretary’s secret policy of seizing the phones of those arriving to the UK on small boats. In the case of two of the claimants, it is alleged that once the Home Office had control over their mobile phones, all of their personal data was extracted and processed unlawfully.

Bernadette Smith is instructed by DPG, and represents MA and KH.  She is led by Tom Hickman QC. HM is represented by Gold Jennings Solicitors .

The claimants are challenging the Home Secretary’s blanket policy of seizing mobile phones and the exercise of search and seizure powers upon asylum seekers arriving to the UK.  They further challenge the practice whereby asylum seekers were compelled to provide PIN numbers under the threat of a criminal sanction, the retention of the phones and the extraction of either all data from the phone or all data covering a 30 day period, all of which they say is unlawful. The claimants also allege that the policies violated their rights under Article 8 and Article 1 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights and breached data protection laws.

The claims raise fundamental issues in regards to the treatment of asylum seekers arriving in the UK. The phones were seized immediately upon arrival, often when the asylum seekers had just stepped off the boat, meaning that the Home Office took away the only opportunity the claimants had to contact loved ones to tell them they were safe, at a time when they had arrived to the UK exhausted, cold and hungry.  They were not allowed to copy down numbers they needed and they were threatened with criminal prosecution if they did not comply with the demand for the PIN.  The Jesuit Refugee Service UK recorded multiple accounts of Home Office phone seizures from asylum seekers and in so doing they began to get the first indication of the scale of this issue, although the true extent of the secret policy did not become known until many more months had passed. JRS UK documented these issues, advocated on behalf of the asylum seekers whose phones had been seized, and brought the issue to the attention of the Home Office. They have provided critical evidence in support of the claimants’ legal challenge.

Privacy International, a charity that defends and promotes the right to privacy, has been granted permission to intervene in the case; providing expert technical assistance to the court.

The blanket policy of seizing mobile phones from newly arrived asylum seekers is believed to have been in place since at least 2019 and continued for well over a year; the Home Secretary’s policy may have affected thousands of asylum seekers who were searched, had their phones seized, had their data extracted and retained unlawfully.

Geeta Koska and Alex Bennie of 1MCB Chambers  provided assistance with research.

The case has been reported on widely, including in The Guardian and The Independent.

 

1MCB Chambers mourns the death of Jocelyn Gibbs

It is with deep sadness that 1MCB Chambers announces the death of associate member, Jocelyn Gibbs.

Jocelyn Gibbs had an illustrious career at the Bar, having represented defendants in a number of high profile cases and made significant contributions to the development of the Bar and the legal sector overall.  She was a member of Chambers from 2000 to 2015 when she retired from practice and remained an associate member of Chambers. We, the members of 1MCB Chambers, are saddened by the sudden loss of our dearly beloved former colleague and friend and wish to pay tribute to her.

Jocelyn was a greatly respected and admired member of Chambers. She was a highly intelligent, selfless and kind person with a reservoir of knowledge both of law and life, which she happily shared. Her soft-spoken and quiet demeanour often concealed her tremendous accomplishments in her field of practice and endeavours.

Jocelyn was called to the Bar in 1972. She had a family at this time and deferred pupillage until 1976, joining 9 Stone Buildings, Lincolns Inn. She later became Joint Head of Chambers. Jocelyn joined two other sets of Chambers, 1 Grays Inn Square from 1990 to 1997 and 8 King Bench Walk, Temple, which later became 1MCB Chambers. In both these sets she was elevated to Joint Head of Chambers. Jocelyn was generous and a person of considerable talent, always ready and willing to give of her time and energy to promote and assist others.

Jocelyn was a pioneering black female barrister defined by her achievements and successes at a time when few women practised at the Bar and even fewer were black. She overcame challenges for herself and others with dignity and professionalism.  Throughout Jocelyn’s life, she always fought hard for racial equality and justice. Her early practice in the magistrates courts was spent fighting what came to be known as “SUS” cases, representing black youths, arrested by the police for so called “loitering with intent to steal” – allegations which were often proven to be totally fabricated. She spent her Saturdays giving free legal advice at the Black People Information Centre on Portobello Road.

Jocelyn was counsel in the Scarman Inquiry into the Brixton riots in 1981. She chaired an inquiry into allegations of racism and harassment surrounding the death of a ten year old boy in Lewisham and a panel inquiry into allegations of abuse at the Nye Bevan Residential Home for the Elderly in Southwark. She also contributed to the Cardiff Three murder trial, a case which led to the requirement for accreditation of all solicitors.

Jocelyn’s expertise led to her chairing numerous conferences on race and the criminal justice system in London and Birmingham organised by the Bar Council, the Commission for Racial Equality, and the Society of Black Lawyers.  Jocelyn sat on the management committee of the Citizens Advice Bureau based in the Royal Courts of Justice. She was an advisory member, and former director and trustee, of the Caldecott Foundation, and sat on the Legal Aid Agency’s Funding Review Committee.

Amongst her many achievements she was appointed an Assistant Recorder on the Midlands and Oxford circuit from 1989-96.  She was very much involved with the Bar Council over many years, sitting on the General Management Committee, the Professional Conduct Committee, and serving as vice-chair of the Race Relations Committee. Her positive intervention was significant for the many disproportionally affected out of the profession by their names on Bar exams.  She ensured that processes were anonymised so that they were fair and meritorious. This paved the way for many who now practice and who could have been similarly unjustly excluded.

Jocelyn was a brilliant barrister and unique talent. She was greatly loved and appreciated by all who knew her. Most of all and closest to her heart, she was the mother of three very successful children, two of whom are lawyers and the third a doctor. Her retirement was a great loss to Chambers and the Bar; her death is a loss to the world and we will miss her.

1MCB Chambers invites applications for tenancy

As 1MCB Chambers continues to grow and build upon its established history, we are looking to recruit outstanding senior (12 years call +) and junior (5 years call +) practitioners across our main practice areas of crime, civil, family, housing and immigration, who are committed to our ethos and want to contribute to chambers life.

We particularly encourage applications from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic candidates, women, persons with disabilities, as well as those returning to the Bar.

1MCB Chambers was founded 40 years ago – dedicated to promoting social justice, civil liberties, and access to justice – and to providing exceptional representation to the communities we serve.

We are fully committed to the Equality and Diversity Code for the Bar, the promotion of equal access to the profession, enabling flexible practices, as well as retaining and supporting women and persons with caring responsibilities.

1MCB Chambers’ efforts  were recognised at the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2021, winning Outstanding Set for Diversity and Inclusion.

1MCB Chambers offers a supportive and flexible approach to life at the Bar. To find out more, please visit our tenancy page.

Please send your covering letter and CV to tenancy@1mcb.com. If you are considering applying and wish to have an informal chat about whether we are the right next step for you, please email tenancy@1mcb.com indicating your main practice area(s) and one of the Tenancy Committee will contact you.

All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Soraya Bauwens elected to the executive committee of the Bar Human Rights Committee

Soraya Bauwens

1MCB Chambers congratulates Soraya Bauwens on her recent election to the executive committee of the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC).

The BHRC seeks to protect and promote international human rights through the rule of law, by using the international human rights law expertise of some of the UK’s most experienced human rights barristers.  It elects an executive committee every two years to lead on the policy, strategy and delivery of its work.

Soraya practises in crime, international human rights and international criminal law, with a focus on representing victims of egregious human rights abuses.  She is currently on sabbatical, serving as Deputy Director of Reprieve.

 

Bernadette Smith appointed to Strategic Litigation Fund expert panel

Bernadette Smith has been appointed to the expert panel of the Strategic Litigation Fund for advancing justice for migrants.

The SLF supports strategic legal work in the UK which benefits asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, where they experience disadvantage or discrimination as a result of their migration status.

Bernadette practises in immigration, asylum, and public law.  She has been ranked in the Legal 500 three years consecutively, most recently in Tier 1.

1MCB Chambers wins Outstanding Set for Diversity & Inclusion at Chambers UK Bar Awards 2021

1MCB Chambers is extremely proud to have won the Outstanding Set for Diversity and Inclusion award at the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2021.

We dedicate this award to Len Woodley QC, our Head of Chambers from 1988 to 2000 and the first African Caribbean barrister to become Queen’s Counsel. Len’s professional life reflected a catalogue of high profile trials in the late twentieth century – the riots in Notting Hill, Tottenham and Brixton, to name a few. In 1970, Len appeared for a defendant in the famous Mangrove 9 trial, in which a group of black activists was accused of inciting a riot at a protest against the police targeting of The Mangrove, a Caribbean restaurant in Notting Hill. The trial became the first judicial acknowledgement of behaviour motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police. The trial was recently dramatised in one of the Oscar winning director Steve McQueen’s mini films in the series ‘Small Axe’ in which, very regrettably, Len was played by a white actor. Passionate about ensuring that the Bar reflects the diversity of the communities it serves, Len would have been immensely proud of this award.

Nowadays, 1MCB Chambers is one of the most diverse sets at the Bar. We are firmly committed to attracting – and retaining – women, black and ethnic minority staff and barristers, people who identify as LGBT+ and individuals with disabilities, through initiatives such as a funded mini pupillage scheme which targets able students from non-traditional backgrounds, our diversity mentoring scheme, and innovative policies designed to support those who are unable to work full time owing to caring responsibilities or disability. At 1MCB, diversity and inclusion are not just boxes to tick: they lie at the heart of who we are and what we stand for.

As we celebrate our achievements, so too we acknowledge that there is much still to be done to promote inclusion within our profession. For example, a recent report by the Bar Council’s race working group highlighted that a black female junior barrister with the same level of experience as a white male junior bills £18,700 a year less on average, and an Asian woman £16,400 less, and black and Asian women at the Bar are four times more likely to experience bullying and harassment at work than white men. In 2021, there are still only five black female QCs and 17 black male QCs – compared with 286 white women QCs and 1,303 white men who have taken Silk. The profession also continues to haemorrhage talented women barristers, which has a significant knock on effect on the diversity of the judiciary, with women representing just 26% of the judiciary in the higher courts. Until black and ethnic minority counsel are no longer mistaken for defendants at court; until no woman barrister dreads sharing news of her pregnancy for fear of the detrimental effect on her practice; until every court building in the country has a working lift – we at 1MCB Chambers will strive to continue to be agents for change.

Soraya Bauwens appointed Deputy Director of Reprieve

Soraya Bauwens

Chambers is delighted to announce that Soraya Bauwens has been appointed as acting Deputy Director of Reprieve.

Reprieve is a legal action NGO comprised of lawyers, investigators and campaigners fighting for victims of grave human rights abuses at the hands of powerful governments, facing execution or  victimised by states’ abusive counter-terror policies – rendition, torture, extrajudicial imprisonment and extrajudicial killing.  Soraya will oversee the organisation’s regional death penalty work, bringing her established expertise in capital defence and international law to the role.

Soraya practices in crime, international human rights and international criminal law, with a focus on representing victims of egregious human rights abuses. Soraya will remain a member of 1MCB Chambers on sabbatical during the course of her appointment.

Important ruling on preservation of EU rights post-Brexit

Shuyeb Muquit acted in the case of Geci (EEA Regs: transitional provisions; appeal rights) [2021] UKUT 285 (IAC), a case concerning the refusal of a residence card under EU law following Brexit. The Upper Tribunal took the opportunity to set out transitional provisions and confirm the continuing preservation of EU rights and in particular rights of appeal – more specifically the right to have confirmed an entitlement to a residence card.

The case has wide implications for those whose appeals against a refusal to issue a residence card was dismissed on public interest grounds, bearing in mind that the appeal to the tribunal is on the basis that the appeal is not in accordance with EU treaties rather than EEA regulations, and the former do not preclude the grant of residence cards on public interest grounds.  As a result, there may be many individuals who can now claim to have been wrongly refused residence cards.

Shuyeb was instructed by Malik & Malik Solicitors.   You can read the judgment here.