Category: News

Guide to defending against evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic

As the coronavirus swept through the UK in March 2020, the government suspended new evictions and a bold commitment was made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”.

Despite the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic, the initial stay on possession proceedings was lifted on 20th September 2020.  A new strategy and procedure has been introduced whereby notice periods have been extended and there is a temporary ban on most evictions until 11th January 2021.

In order to navigate these changes, housing barrister Geeta Koska has prepared a short guide to support advisers and solicitors facing residential possession proceedings and evictions.  As the new measures fall short of the promise that tenants would not be forced out of their homes, the guide considers the tools available to protect tenants against being made homeless this winter. 

As 2020 draws to a close, we continue to wait for the Renter’s Reform Bill, which would abolish “no fault evictions” under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, and a realistic plan to mitigate the economic and social cost of the pandemic.  In these challenging circumstances, 1MCB’s housing team will continue to defend and promote the rights of tenants.

The complete guide can be downloaded here.

Michael Sprack represents ex-employee in High Court gagging order case

The solicitors’ firm, Vardags Ltd, alleged that the ex-employee had leaked confidential information. Michael Sprack, representing the ex-employee, successfully resisted Vardag’s arguments that the hearing should be held in private with reporting restrictions, that the Defendant should be required to provide information and that the Defendant should pay the Claimant’s costs of £68,000, which were reserved.

The underlying allegations relate to a leak, allegedly by the ex-employee, of an ‘all staff email’ reminding female staff that they could dress in a ‘discreetly sexy’ manner. Both the original leak and the recent High Court hearing have received extensive media coverage.

The case raises complex questions about the scope of the equitable and contractual obligations of confidence, as well as the right to free expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cynthia McFarlane shortlisted for Personal Injury Awards 2020 Mediation Achiever of the Year

We are delighted to announce that Cynthia McFarlane has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Mediation Achiever of the Year category at the Personal Injury Awards 2020.

The objectives of the awards are to identify high standards of practice and to inspire others to emulate the achievements demonstrated by those who have been shortlisted.

Cynthia is an experienced barrister who has demonstrated a track record of successes achieved through the use of mediation to benefit her clients.  She used innovative and effective approaches and showed an ability to think outside the box.

We are proud that she has shown dedication to advocating the benefits of mediation to the profession and clients, and that her contribution to the wider legal community has been recognised.

Cynthia has been commended as “not only excellent as a barrister, but she is also amazing as a mediator. Having attended some mediation sessions that were conducted by her, I can certainly say that she takes a pragmatic approach for all the parties concerned and she does not over complicate things but rather makes the process easy to understand by all parties.”

It is wonderful that her work has been recognised and included as a finalist for the 2020 awards.

The virtual award ceremony will take place on 1st December 2020. To watch the event please register to live stream here.


1MCB welcomes Soraya Bauwens as a new tenant

We are pleased to welcome Soraya Bauwens as a new tenant.  Soraya practises in crime, international human rights and international criminal law, having completed her  third six in chambers.  She is an expert on international human rights in the Middle East and North Africa region and has appeared regularly  before various UN bodies, both as an expert and to represent victims of human rights abuses, in the context of juvenile justice, human trafficking, and counterterrorism. She has particular expertise in preparing  submissions to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Procedures and Committees.  In addition, Soraya is currently appointed as a researcher to the Uyghur Tribunal, investigating alleged genocide in northwestern China.

1MCB members achieve rankings in Chambers & Partners 2021

We are delighted that Iain Edwards and Anna Watterson achieved rankings in the latest edition of Chambers & Partners directory 2021.

Iain Edwards was ranked for a sixth consecutive year in the field of International Criminal Law. Iain was noted as “A respected practitioner who attracts praise for his deep knowledge of international criminal law. He has spent a considerable amount of time representing individuals accused of genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He has also appeared before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague. [He is currently involved] in the Jovica Stanišić & Franko Simatović retrial before the IRMCT.” Iain was particularly recognised for his trial advocacy and as being “excellent with witnesses.”

Anna Watterson is ranked in Band 4 for Social Housing. Anna was noted as “A well-regarded junior with expertise across a range of housing matters. She regularly represents tenants in possession cases, as well as disrepair claims. She is a part-time First-tier Tribunal judge in the Social Entitlement Chamber.” She was particularly praised for her “Impressive oral advocacy.”​ ​

Amritpal Bachu nominated Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2020

1MCB Chambers is delighted with its newest tenant Amritpal Bachu’s nomination for Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2020.  Chambers has a 40-year history of representing all sectors of the community, particularly disadvantaged groups.  Our barristers have a earned a reputation for being “fighters” (Legal 500 2021), and Amritpal is no exception.  We are proud of Amritpal’s commitment to access to justice and have our fingers tightly crossed in support of him.

Amritpal has been undertaking employment related discrimination cases, particularly over the Covid-19 national lockdown. He also stepped up on housing cases, including representing alleged squatters facing eviction during the pandemic. In recognition of Amritpal’s willingness to act pro bono, an instructing solicitor commented “Amrit is a credit to the profession”.  Amritpal also contributed more widely to combat discrimination arising from Covid-19 by assisting the Equal Rights Trust (“ERT”) on their initiative addressing state responses to the pandemic.  Amritpal’s legal and policy research helped frame the ERT’s policy position on ‘immunisation certificates’ and ‘track and trace’ applications, as well as being relied upon for their advocacy submission to the UN Special Procedure mandate holders on Covid-19.

David Abbot, Chief Executive of the Free Representation Unit, said “Amrit has always been sympathetic, kind and willing to go the extra mile to get the right result” and “wholeheartedly” supports his nomination as Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2020.

Iain Edwards, Salma Lalani, Benjamin Hawkin & Bernadette Smith recognised in Legal 500

Four members of 1 MCB Chambers have been ranked in the 2021 edition of Legal 500.  Congratulations to Iain Edwards, Bernadette Smith, Ben Hawkin and Salma Lalani.

Iain Edwards was ranked for International crime and extradition:

Unflappable in court. He puts everyone in the courtroom at ease whilst at the same time remaining focused, thorough and succinct. Mr. Edwards remains at the top of his game and a stalwart in international criminal proceedings.

Iain is a seasoned and compassionate barrister specialising in serious crime.  He represents defendants charged with the gravest of offences and has a particular expertise in international crimes. He is developing a strong practice in extradition.

Salma Lalani was ranked for Crime:

Highly impressed by her meticulous case preparation, strong work ethic and excellent client care. Her approach is one of forensic preparation, precise cross-examination and passionate advocacy.”

Salma specialises mainly in criminal defence work and has developed a highly successful practice encompassing all areas of serious and complex crime.  A well-respected leading junior highly sought after by solicitors who are impressed by her sensible, thorough and well-balanced approach to often difficult matters.

Benjamin Hawkin was ranked for Immigration (including business immigration):

He goes straight to the core of the matter and provides clear and concise advice.”

Ben practises in immigration & asylum, mental health, prison law and public law, with a particular emphasis on human rights issues. He has appeared at every level of the tribunal and court system, representing victims of human rights violations, leaders of political groups, high-ranking military officers, diplomats, terrorists, financiers and long term serving prisoners. Ben has been involved in a number of ground breaking cases in the higher courts.

Bernadette Smith was ranked for Immigration (including business immigration):

Bernadette is accessible and engaged throughout the preparation period, her knowledge in immigration and asylum matters is excellent, she is creative, very bright, and her input is invaluable.”

Bernadette is an immigration, asylum and public law specialist.  She is committed to representing publicly funded and vulnerable clients and is experienced in representing individuals in complex cases.  She delivers training on asylum and recently co-authored two working guides, one for representatives and one for unrepresented appellants, on the procedural changes that were introduced into the Immigration and Asylum Chamber due to the pandemic. ​

Soraya Bauwens appointed as researcher to the Uyghur Tribunal

Soraya Bauwens has been appointed as a researcher to the Uyghur Tribunal, an independent people’s tribunal established to investigate allegations of possible crimes against humanity and genocide by the People’s Republic of China against the Uyghur people and other Turkic Muslims.

The Tribunal was established in September 2020 and is chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC.  Hearings will be open to the public, with a judgment expected by the end of 2021.

1MCB supporting the LLST

For many years, 1MCB Chambers has supported the London Legal Support Trust by taking part in the annual London Legal Walk.  With social distancing measures having led to this year’s event being cancelled, however, the charity has instead encouraged would-be walkers to devise their own ’10X’ challenges to raise much needed funds for legal advice charities.

Rising to the challenge, on 5th October – the day on which the Legal Walk had been scheduled to take place – Practice Manager Julie Clarke ran ten miles cross country, whilst on 8th October members and staff will join together in meditation for 100 minutes, led by Deputy Head of Chambers Rajesh Rai.

To donate, please click here.

Gwawr Thomas appointed to panel of international detention law experts

Gwawr Thomas has been invited to join the Detention ExPEERience Network, a panel of experts established and co-ordinated by the international NGO, Avocats Sans Frontières. The panel comprises lawyers, jurists and social scientists each with particular expertise in international detention law, and has been set up to provide technical assistance to ASF’s projects in Uganda and DRC addressing the over use of pre-trial detention. In DRC, 73% of the prison population is made up of pre-trial detainees, whilst Uganda’s prison population currently stands at 319% capacity, with 50% of inmates being unconvicted; many defendants spend several years in prison awaiting trial.

Avocats Sans Frontières works closely with local partners in each of the countries in which it operates to promote the development of institutions and mechanisms that facilitate access to justice and guarantee fundamental human rights. The Network’s activities include monitoring, training, advocacy and strategic litigation both in the domestic courts and before regional and international organs such as the African Commission, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the UN.

1MCB welcomes two new members

1MCB Chambers is pleased to welcome two new members.

Michael Murphy is an experienced practitioner with a broad common law practice encompassing inquiries and inquests, public law, regulatory law, immigration and asylum, and crime.  He is currently instructed in the Grenfell Inquiry, representing the interests of the relatives of several of those who lost their lives.

Amritpal Bachu joins our employment and discrimination, housing and civil litigation practice teams, having completed a third six at 1MCB.  His commitment to access to justice was recently recognised by Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit), which named him one of their Pro Bono Heroes of 2020.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon delivers judgment

The Trial Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon delivered its long-awaited judgment in the Ayyash et al case this week (available here). On trial were four (originally five) members of Hezbollah, alleged to have been part of a much wider conspiracy to assassinate the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri. The murder was carried out on 14th February 2005 in downtown Beirut by a suicide bomber detonating a truck filled with over 2 tonnes of high explosives. Rafik Hariri was killed along with 21 others; 226 people were injured, many very seriously.

The STL was established in 2009 by UN Security Council Resolution 1757, following an initial request by the government of Lebanon to investigate these crimes and prosecute those believed to be responsible.  The STL is the first tribunal of international character to try terrorism as a discrete crime, the first to deal with crimes committed in the Middle East, and the first to try defendants in their absence since Nuremberg.

After a lengthy pre-trial phase, the trial started in January 2014. It concluded in September 2018. The Trial Chamber convicted the main surviving defendant, Salim Jamil Ayyash, of all counts on the indictment, confirming his criminal responsibility as a co-conspirator in the conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack, and as co-perpetrator for the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The three other surviving defendants were acquitted of all counts.

Iain Edwards defended Mustafa Amine Badreddine, originally indicted with his co-accused, from November 2012 until July 2016, when proceedings against the client were terminated. Mr Badreddine was found to have been killed in Damascus, Syria in May 2016.  Mr Badreddine was portrayed by the Prosecution as “an experienced operative with the necessary skills, knowledge and ability to train others in the sophisticated preparation and execution of the Attack…a senior military commander of vast experience and importance in Hezbollah and the history of the Resistance movement.”  Essentially, Mr Badreddine was accused of being the mastermind and driving force behind the attack.

However, in assessing Mr Badreddine’s role as an unindicted co-conspirator (as he was at the date of judgment) the Trial Chamber found the Prosecution’s evidence to be “insufficient to place him in the conspiracy at its head as the organiser and coordinator of all of its activities, as is pleaded.” Iain is of the view that, had his client not died in May 2016, there is every reason to believe he would have been acquitted of all counts in the indictment.