Category: News

Tanya Murshed nominated for Bar Pro Bono Award

Tanya Murshed is amongst the eleven nominees for this year’s Bar Pro Bono Award, in recognition of her work with death row inmates in Uganda.

Tanya is the founder of Evolve, a barrister led organisation which aims to improve access to justice, build capacity within the legal profession and promote efficiency, integrity and fairness within the criminal justice system of Uganda through the provision of pro bono assistance.  A team of volunteer barristers – including a number of Tanya’s colleagues at 1MCB – have assisted approximately 500 prisoners pro bono in appeals against conviction and sentence and in mitigation hearings following the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in Uganda in 2009.

Supporting Tanya’s nomination, Declan O’Callaghan, a barrister at Landmark Chambers who has acted as amicus curiae in several capital cases before the Ugandan appeal courts, said,“In essence, and this is no blustery overstatement said with flippancy – a considerable number of people owe their lives to Tanya’s capacity for hard work and her ability to persuade a number of professionals to give up their time and commitment to helping death row prisoners in Uganda. Her work is the true essence of ‘pro bono’.”

1MCB’s strength in acting for legally aided clients recognised in Legal 500 2017

In the year of our 40th anniversary, 1MCB’s “particular strength in acting for legally aided clients” continues to be recognised.  This year’s Legal 500 directory notes 1MCB to be a “very professional” set containing “talented yet down-to-earth barristers with deep expertise” and a “business-driven approach and a focus on results”.

The clerks are similarly recognised for their “attentive manner”, “often going above and beyond in order to facilitate the instruction of counsel” with a “human touch”.

In addition, four individual practitioners were recognised as leaders within their particular fields:

Benjamin Hawkin “approaches his preparation pragmatically, which puts clients at ease” (immigration);

Iain Edwards is recognised as “an exceptionally accomplished practitioner in the field, who genuinely thrives on his feet in the courtroom” (international crime);

David Stephenson is noted as “a very skilled advocate with particularly impressive knowledge” (employment);

Jose Olivares-Chandler is named as “an incredibly intellectually gifted barrister, who goes above and beyond on a regular basis” (crime).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acquittals for parents accused of child cruelty following visit to traditional healer

Gwawr Thomas and Jose Olivares-Chandler represented a mother and father, respectively, accused of child cruelty. The defendants did not dispute that they had taken their daughter to a traditional healer in Malawi, who had rubbed herbs into a series of incisions made on her back and chest. However, they pointed to their belief that they had acted in the child’s best interests, genuinely believing in witchcraft and the healing powers of traditional African medicine.

The prosecution sought to argue that culture was not relevant to the jury’s consideration of whether the parents had ‘wilfully’ caused harm to their daughter. It was argued on behalf of the defendants that, on the contrary, the cultural and religious context was a highly material factor when the jury came to assess the defendants’ state of mind and, consequently, whether they had deliberately caused unnecessary suffering to their daughter: indeed, it would be a breach of Article 9 ECHR if the jury was directed not to take into account the defendants’ genuine belief in witchcraft as part of their circumstances.

Both defendants were acquitted.

Supreme Court to consider ‘gig economy’ case

The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal in Pimlico Plumbers v Smith [2017] EWCA Civ 51 – a case concerning whether the respondent Mr Smith was a ‘worker’ within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Regulation 2 of the Working Time Regulations 1998, and whether he was in ’employment’ within s.83(2)(a) of the Equality Act 2010.

The case is significant as it presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to consider the issue of ‘gig economy’ jobs.  As the Court of Appeal put it: “The case puts a spotlight on a business model under which operatives are intended to appear to clients of the business as working for the business, but at the same time the business itself seeks to maintain that, as between itself and its operatives, there is a legal relationship of client or customer and independent contractor rather than employer and employee or worker”.

1MCB Chambers’ David Stephenson acted as junior counsel for Mr Smith.

Neelim Sultan speaking at conference on gender equality in the legal professions

Neelim Sultan has been invited to speak at a seminar jointly hosted by the International Bar Association and Arab International Women’s Form (AIWF), titled ‘Advancing gender equality in law and the professions’.  Neelim will be discussing how the legal professions can develop women- and family-friendly working cultures.

The event will be held on 19th September 2017 at the London Bankside offices of Boodle Hatfield.

High Court confirms that alleged genocidaires cannot be returned to Rwanda for trial

On 28 July 2017, the High Court (Irwin LJ and Foskett J) dismissed an appeal by the Government of Rwanda against the Senior District Judge’s decision to refuse the extradition of five men to Rwanda. Their extradition was sought in order that they be tried for mass crimes arising out of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Iain Edwards was instructed as junior counsel for the third Respondent.

This is the latest decision in a case going back to 2007 when a hearing on a first request for extradition resulted in the government of Rwanda’s request being granted. That decision was successfully appealed to the Divisional Court in 2009 where it was found that there would be a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice if the men were extradited to Rwanda.

A second extradition request was made by the government of Rwanda in April 2013. The hearing before the SDJ lasted for 66 days and there were over 23,000 pages of evidence. In its judgment, the Divisional Court described the case as a “truly formidable undertaking.” The SDJ declined to order extradition despite the government of Rwanda’s submissions that the system of justice in Rwanda had undergone a ‘sea-change’ and that no national or international court had refused to extradite, transfer or deport to Rwanda since 2009. The Respondents cross-appealed on a number of additional matters.

The Divisional Court found that “the evidence suggests that Rwanda has, if anything, become more of an illiberal and authoritarian state than was the case in 2008/2009” and that “there is sufficient material to show a real risk of political pressure and political interference in the justice system in Rwanda.” The Court concluded: “In respect of all Respondents, we consider the Senior District Judge was correct in her conclusion that, if extradited, they would be at risk of a flagrant denial of fair trial.  We conclude as of the date of this judgment that remains the case”.

The government of Rwanda has, exceptionally, been given a final opportunity to persuade the Court that conditions will be put in place sufficient to overcome the bar to extradition.

John Benson QC and Salma Lalani secure murder acquittal following cut-throat trial

John Benson QC and Salma Lalani successfully defended a young man charged with murder at The Old Bailey recently.  Jordan Archambie was one of five men indicted for the murder of Raja Ali by stabbing in September 2016.  The prosecution alleged that Mr Archambie and three other accused were members of a drug gang and that the deceased was the senior figure in a rival drug gang.  The fifth accused was alleged to have set up the attack by arranging to meet the deceased at a certain time and place in Dagenham – information which was then passed to the other defendants.  The prosecution alleged that Archambie had a knife and was responsible for the killing.  The challenges in the case increased when two of the co-defendants sought to blame Archambie.  CCTV captured much of the incident and, so the prosecution asserted, showed Archambie with a knife.  At the conclusion of a seven week trial Jordan Archambie was acquitted of murder – a verdict which demonstrated that the jury could not be sure that he had a knife.  He was convicted of manslaughter and of violent disorder on his own admission.

Ariane Adam leading Reprieve’s death penalty work in Malawi

Ariane Adam has returned to chambers having worked at the legal action charity Reprieve between September 2016 and June 2017. Ariane led Reprieve’s work in Malawi assisting prisoners benefiting from the decision in Kafantayeni & Others v The Attorney General of Malawi (Constitutional Case No. 12 of 2005), by which the mandatory death sentence was ruled unconstitutional. She worked with the Malawi Human Rights Commission, the Legal Aid Bureau and other local partners to secure new sentences for 51 prisoners; 24 of these individuals received custodial sentences that led to their immediate release.

Ariane further identified and advised Reprieve on opportunities to support regional efforts to abolish the death penalty in Malawi and Uganda. She represented the organisation in high level advocacy meetings with governments, intergovernmental bodies and other actors. She also facilitated the provision of training to regional actors and NGOs on minimum standards on the application of the death penalty, mental health as mitigation, and engagement with human rights instruments.

Ariane will continue to assist Reprieve in developing training materials for advocates and human rights defenders in South and East African countries, whilst continuing to accept instructions in the areas of immigration and asylum, housing, community care, employment and discrimination, and international human rights.

Justice for Grenfell

Members of the 1MCB housing team have been helping with the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.  Nick Bano has written about Grenfell for The Justice Gap.

There is still a need for volunteers – please register here if you are a lawyer with expertise in housing, employment, immigration, welfare benefits, criminal law, personal injury, inquests, fire regulations, building controls, health & safety, or public law.

Michael Chambers defends victim of Grindr vigilantes

Michael Chambers represented a defendant who had been targeted by the vigilante group ‘Dark Justice’.  The defendant – a gay man – had been drawn into conversations with members of the group on the dating app Grindr.  The group engaged him in explicit conversations, posing as a 14-year-old, and arranged to meet him.  The group then used threatening and intimidating language and filmed his confession.  The police were called and arrested the defendant.

Following a one-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court the Defendant, a 32-year-old man with no previous convictions, wept in the dock when he heard the unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict.

Patricia Rona Gabrielle Sheldrick Farnon (28 February 1964 – 23 May 2017)

Chambers is very sad to announce the recent death of Patricia Farnon. Pat joined 1MCB Chambers in 2013 and prior to that had been a member of Tooks Chambers, and before that a tenant at 1 Pump Court.

After being called to the Bar in 1986, Pat practised mainly in crime for the first seven years of her career.  Thereafter, she specialised in family law, predominantly care proceedings, representing parents, grandparents, guardians, older children, interveners and local authorities.  Throughout her career Pat dealt with many long-running and complex cases, often involving thorny family backgrounds, serious allegations or international aspects.  Pat was deeply committed to the publicly funded Bar, and to providing a first-class service to every client, whether lay or professional, regardless of their background or means.  She was especially well-known at the family Bar for her empathy and compassion, and was frequently asked to represent clients with mental health issues, personality disorders or learning disabilities who required particularly sensitive representation.

Away from work, Pat was also great company, and much loved by us for her frankness, keen wit, sense of humour and generosity.

We have lost a great friend and colleague and offer our many condolences to her family at this difficult time.