Category: News

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 If you are considering applying and wish to have an informal chat about whether we are the right next step for you, please email 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.




David Langwallner secures substantial reduction in sentence on appeal

David Langwallner recently secured a substantial reduction in the sentence of a man convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.  The Court of Appeal agreed that the sentencing judge in the court below had failed to properly evaluate the implications of a psychological report which had confirmed a diagnosis of autism; the judge had further failed to properly engage with the implications of previous abuse suffered by the defendant, which may have caused him to misconstrue the complainant’s intentions.  The Court accordingly reduced David’s client’s sentence from 11 years’ imprisonment to 8 years’ imprisonment.

Iain Edwards, Anna Watterson and Michael Sprack ranked in Chambers and Partners 2022

Three members of 1MCB Chambers have been ranked in Chambers and Partners UK Bar Guide for 2022. Congratulations to Iain Edwards, Anna Watterson and Michael Sprack.

Iain Edwards was ranked for international criminal law:

“He is a professional, courteous and hard-hitting barrister who makes you proud of the British Bar when you see him in court”

Iain is a respected practitioner who attracts praise for his deep knowledge of international criminal law. He represents defendants charged with the gravest of offences, and has most recently has been appointed as associate counsel to defend Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Iain has a particular expertise in international crimes and UN sanctions work.

Anna Watterson was ranked for social housing:

“She is an insightful and committed barrister who gives excellent, pragmatic advice and is at the same time very personable and a pleasure to instruct.”

Anna specialises in landlord and tenant law, housing and homelessness, with a particular emphasis on representing tenants. She prides herself on ensuring that vulnerable clients have the best possible experience of the justice system. Solicitors appreciate her practical approach and ability to clearly analyse complex cases and propose workable solutions.

Michael Sprack was also ranked for social housing:

“He is competent and effective, providing helpful advice and advocating successfully.  He is a really bright guy with very clever ideas in respect to strategy in difficult discrimination claims.”

Michael regularly accepts instructions to advise and act for occupiers defending possession claims and occupiers alleging disrepair, unlawful eviction, harassment or discrimination. Michael also represents clients in urgently securing interim relief from the High Court, as well as in homelessness appeals. Like many of 1MCB’s practitioners, Michael’s practice is multidisciplinary and he also has many years of experience in employment law on issues including unfair dismissal, discrimination, victimisation and whistleblowing, as well as advising and representing former employees in relation to High Court proceedings.





1MCB shortlisted for Chambers UK Bar Award

1MCB is delighted to have been shortlisted for a Chambers UK Bar Award in the category of Outstanding Set for Diversity & Inclusion. The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, 18th November at Old Billingsgate, London.  The full shortlist can be found here: congratulations to all the nominees.

1MCB works with and for a diverse range of professional and lay clients.  Chambers’ expertise across a wide range of areas, our commitment to excellence and to finding solutions for our clients, and our collegiate working environment means that we are able to share our knowledge between and within areas, be approachable and offer the highest standards of representation.  ​

Chambers is guided by its commitment to the communities it serves.  We strive to support our members’ innovative, and often quiet, efforts to use law both to obtain justice for our individual clients and more broadly as a tool for social change.  We owe much of our ethos to the leadership of Len Woodley QC, the first Afro-Caribbean barrister to become a QC, who was head of chambers for the twelve years from 1988 to 2000.  He was involved in some of the most important race trials in the in the 70s and 80s. His dedication to civil liberties and equality of opportunity was not showy, but it was radical, and it is this approach that remains evident in Chambers today.

We are a very diverse set of Chambers with a breadth and depth of expertise across a broad range of areas including crime, immigration and asylum, housing and community care, family, actions against the police, public law, international law and civil litigation.  It is important to us that we not only continue to do legally aided work but also try to find ways to share our knowledge and offer support; the pressures on legal aid providers, following deep cuts and ongoing funding issues, continue to challenge the sector as well as access to justice.

Chambers supports its members’ strong links with community organisations and charities committed to bringing about structural change and addressing inequality both locally and internationally.  Members regularly provide expert advice and representation for these organisations as well as to representatives and on a direct access basis.

Ariane Adam appointed Legal Director at Public Law Project

We are delighted to announce that associate member Ariane Adam has been appointed Legal Director at Public Law Project (PLP).  PLP strives to improve public decision making and promote access to public law remedies by those who are marginalised through poverty, discrimination or disadvantage.

Ariane joins PLP from the Equal Rights Trust, where she has led the organisation’s legal research work on the rights to equality and non-discrimination, its global support programme for lawyers, and the charity’s own litigation caseload.

We are delighted that she will remain an associate member at 1MCB Chambers when she takes up her post in January 2022.

Constitutional Court of Uganda orders affirmative action to remedy historical wrongs done to indigenous Batwa people

In United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) and 11 Others v Attorney General and 2 Others (Constitutional Petition 3 of 2011) [2021] UGCC 22, the Constitutional Court of Uganda recently upheld the right of the Batwa people to affirmative action to address the wrongs inflicted on them when they were forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands.  At a time when there is increasing global concern about the loss of biodiversity, the Court’s judgment serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples when devising conservation strategies.

The Batwa number approximately 6,000 and live predominantly in south western Uganda – a prime destination for primate tourism.  Much of the land which now comprises the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and the Echuya Central Forest Reserve was customarily owned by them for generations prior to the colonisation of Uganda. However, from the 1930s through to the 1990s, they were involuntarily displaced from their lands, without consultation or compensation.  As a result, not only have the Batwa been denied access to important spiritual sites which now fall within the national parks, but many find themselves living in extreme poverty, dependent on NGOs for basic necessities, with very limited access to education and healthcare, and facing a markedly higher infant mortality rate than the non-Batwa population.

The petitioners submitted that the government’s failure to recognise the Batwa as an “indigenous people” within the meaning of international law contravened Articles 19 to 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the rights of all peoples to equality and rights; to self-determination; to free disposal of wealth and natural resources; to economic, social and cultural development; to national and international security and peace, and to a general satisfactory environment), as well as Article 36 of the Constitution, which confirms the right of minorities to participate in decision making processes.  The Court rejected these submissions on the basis that these issues fell outside the Constitutional Court’s jurisdiction, which is confined to questions of constitutional interpretation.  Instead, the Court preferred to approach the case by reference to Article 32(1) of the Constitution, which creates a positive duty to take affirmative action in favour of groups “marginalised on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom”.  Having considered evidence from a number of members of the Batwa community, as well as expert evidence, the Court found that the government’s actions “had rendered [the Batwa people] landless, and has severely affected not only their livelihoods, but has destroyed their identity, dignity and self-worth as a people and as equal citizens with other Ugandans”.  As such, the Court was satisfied that the Batwa are indeed a marginalised group and that the state was under a duty to take “all necessary steps in the interests of affirmative action in their favour”.

Finding unanimously in favour of the Batwa, the five judge bench directed that the case be transferred to the High Court to determine what measures should be implemented by way of a remedy.

As a visiting lawyer at Onyango & Co Advocates, Kampala, Gwawr Thomas was part of the team which drafted the submissions advanced on behalf of the petitioners.

The judgment can be read here.

Photo by floeschen on Flickr.


Iain Edwards appointed as defence counsel at ICC

Iain Edwards has been appointed as associate Counsel to defend Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  Mr Abd-Al-Rahman – said by the Prosecution to have used the alias Ali Kushayb – is allegedly a senior leader of the Arab militia in Darfur, Sudan 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, arising out of the conflict in Darfur.

This case is the first at the ICC to deal with the situation 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 provides a unique opportunity for the defence to advance novel jurisdictional challenges.

The trial is scheduled to commence in April 2022.