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Administrative and public law

Garden Court has a long-standing reputation for taking on cutting-edge public law challenges against all public authorities including government departments, local councils, courts and tribunals, coroners, the police, housing authorities, social services, the Home Office, hospitals, schools and prisons.

Our public law barristers write leading texts on judicial review and regularly train others on how to pursue judicial reviews. Public law challenges arise in nearly all of Chambers’ specialist areas and our public law team includes practitioners from each of these areas, at all levels of seniority.

Garden Court Chambers won the Human Rights and Public Law Set of the Year Award at the Chambers Bar Awards 2016 and was shortlisted for Public Law Set of the Year at the Legal 500 Awards 2017.

Our public law expertise

  • Challenges to government policy and secondary legislation
  • Constitutional challenges to all the key departments of state
  • Challenging cuts to public services
  • Access to justice
  • Deaths for which the state could be responsible
  • Public inquiries
  • Human rights and international humanitarian law
  • False imprisonment, administrative detention and prisoners’ rights
  • National security and counter-terror measures
  • Social welfare
  • Criminal justice
  • Discrimination
  • Trafficking and modern slavery

What others say

“Garden Court Chambers is very well respected for its work in public law on behalf of claimants seeking to challenge the decisions of central government and local authorities. Its members are highly accomplished in pursuing actions in the context of immigration, national security and social housing.”

Chambers UK Bar Guide

Our notable cases

We are known for ground-breaking and successful challenges to government policy in test cases of constitutional importance.

Our barristers regularly appear in the European Court of Human Rights, European Court of Justice, Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber).

Our team also fights for clients in judicial reviews that may not hit the headlines, but are nonetheless vital for protecting the rights of vulnerable individuals.

Our high-profile cases include:

Supreme Court rules ‘deport first, appeal later’ policy unlawful
In a landmark case concerning the right to an effective appeal, the Government’s ‘deport first, appeal later’ policy was unanimously found to be unlawful. Under the policy, introduced for deportation appeals in 2014 and subsequently extended to other human rights appeals, thousands were being deprived of an in-country right of appeal. Widely reported, including by the BBC and the GuardianR (Kiarie; Byndloss) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKSC 42

Definition of torture in immigration detention
Successful challenge to the legality of the narrowed definition of torture in immigration detention policy. Acting for Medical Justice and two victims of gender-based violence. Widely reported, including by the BBC and the GuardianMedical Justice v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 2461

Revised benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against lone parents with children under two
Acting for Shelter, intervening, on the lawfulness of the imposition of the revised benefits cap. In a robustly worded judgment, the High Court found that the revised benefits cap operated to unlawfully discriminate against lone parents with children under the age of two and those children under the age of two. Widely reported, including by the Guardian and Independent. DA & Others v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2017] EWHC 1446 (Admin)

Anonymity of mental health patients
Landmark Supreme Court case on the anonymity of patients detained under the Mental Health Act in civil proceedings. Widely reported, including by the BBC. R(C) v Secretary of State for Justice [2016] UKSC 2

Nzolameso v Westminster City Council (Shelter Intervening) [2015] – Supreme Court
Acting for the Intervener, Shelter Children’s Legal Services, on the approach to the assessment of best interests of children in deciding arrangements for discharging the homelessness duty. Reported by the Guardian, the BBC and the Independent. 

Strip-searching of minors
Precedent-setting case on the strip-searching of minors which resulted in the Appeal Court ruling that children being ‘stripped for their own protection’ by police must have a parent or appropriate adult with them. Reported by the BBC and the Guardian. PD (by her mother and LF, ZD) v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and Just For Kids Law & CRAE (Interveners) [2015] EWCA Civ 114

Suspension of detained fast track system for asylum-seekers
Successful challenge to the legality of the Detained Fast Track Asylum system leading to its suspension and the Home Secretary admitting the existing process was unfair and breached the Equality Act 2010 and the UK’s trafficking obligations. Covered extensively in the press, including by the BBC and the Guardian. R(JM and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; R (PU and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014-2015]

Scope of Special Immigration Appeals Commission powers to order disclosure
Test case brought regarding the scope of SIAC’s powers to order disclosure by the Secretary of State. Divisional court confirmed that SIAC had powers to order disclosure of underlying material. Secretary of State for the Home Department v Special Immigration Appeals Commission [2015] EWHC 681 (Admin)

Prolonged segregation of vulnerable prisoners
Challenge to the legality of regulations and policies on prolonged segregation of vulnerable prisoners. R (Joanna Dennehy) v SSJ and Governor of HMP Bronzefield  [2016] EWHC 1219 (Admin)

Entitlement of Zambrano carers to social security benefits
Court of Appeal test case as to whether Zambrano carers are entitled to social security benefits. Court ruled that the Zambrano status arises immediately and there is no need to show destitution. Sanneh & Ors v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Others [2015] EWCA Civ 49

Allocation schemes for social housing
The Defendant council’s allocation scheme for social housing was declared unlawful and quashed in that it suspended the ability of a homeless family to bid for social housing. This case was reported on the BBC and Independent. R (Hakima Alemi) v Westminster City Council [2015] EWHC 1765 (Admin)

Obligations owed to trafficked workers (Supreme Court)
Supreme Court rules that victims of trafficking are entitled to compensation for mistreatment even if their entry into the UK was illegal. Test case on the obligations under domestic and international law owed to trafficked workers from overseas. Hounga v Allen [2014] UKSC

Mark Duggan shooting (2014)
Judicial Review challenge to an inquest finding of lawful killing of Mark Duggan. Mark Duggan case has been widely reported in the press including the Independent.

Treatment of 17-year-old children in custody
Successful landmark test case overturning the Home Secretary’s policy of treating 17-year-olds taken into custody as adults. Covered by The Telegraph. R (HC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 982 (Admin), [2014]


Our barristers have contributed to or co-authored many of the leading texts on public law, immigration, housing and criminal justice:

  • Judicial Review: A Practical Guide, 3rd edition 2017 – Amanda Weston
  • Judicial Review: A Practical Guide, 2nd edition 2012 – Amanda Weston
  • Judicial Review: Law & Practice, 1st edition, 2012 – Amanda Weston
  • Archbold Criminal Pleading Evidence & Practice – Maya Sikand, Contributing Editor 2015 to date
  • Blackstone’s Guide to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, OUP, 2009 – Maya Sikand
  • Blackstone’s Criminal Practice, OUP – Maya Sikand, Contributing Editor 2009 – 2014
  • Housing Allocation and Homelessness, Jordans, 4th edition, 2016 – Liz Davies
  • Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practiceall editions have included contributions from many members of the public law team
  • Butterworths’ Immigration Law ServiceGreg Ó Ceallaigh

Find out more about our members of our public law team. To get in touch, please contact Emma Nash, Public Law Practice Manager on 020 7993 7815. Email:

Team members