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Ronan Toal

  • Call: 1999
Ronan Toal
"He has an uncanny knack of seeing the real crux of a case."

Chambers UK, 2019

"One of the most brilliant legal minds I have worked with. Notwithstanding his genius, often rooted in his innovative approach, he is incredibly down-to-earth and discusses and advises in a manner that is inclusive and generous." 

Chambers UK

What others say

“He has an exceptional legal mind and an uncanny knack of seeing the real crux of a case. His written work is clear and succinct, and he is calm, clear and extremely persuasive on his feet.”
Chambers UK 2019 (Band 1)

‘He is self-evidently brilliant and will go the extra mile for clients.”
Legal 500 2019 (Tier 2)

“He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of immigration law and is creative in arguments.” “He has a formidable intellect, and is excellent at advocating for clients with difficult cases.”
Chambers UK 2018 (Band 1)

“He has a fantastic ability to elucidate complex matters, and displays great empathy and patience with clients.”
Legal 500 2017 (Tier 2)

“His knowledge is incredibly impressive, he takes interesting approaches and makes them work.” “He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of immigration and asylum law.”
Chambers UK 2017 (Band 1)

He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything immigration.”
Legal 500 2016

“Ronan possesses one of the most brilliant minds I have ever worked with. Notwithstanding his genius, often rooted in his innovative approach, he is incredibly down-to-earth and discusses and advises in a manner that is inclusive and generous.”
Chambers UK 2016 (Band 1)

“An excellent barrister.”
Legal 500 2015

“An erudite immigration/asylum practitioner who specialises in human trafficking, and who continues to contribute to the most celebrated texts on the law. He routinely goes to the High Court and Court of Appeal to fight on behalf of his clients on crucial immigration points.” “He’s extremely bright and writes beautifully.” “He has done a mix of asylum work and detention work and is very knowledgeable.”
Chambers UK 2015

“Calm, patient and very clear-headed.”
Legal 500 2014

Described as a “super brain at the top of his game,” he is an “excellent barrister” who has been involved in some very high-profile work. He is described as “supremely clever and authoritative, the clients have confidence in him straight away.” “Working with him is easy, as he always works within deadlines and he’s diplomatic when he thinks something is wrong.”
Chambers UK 2014

“Outstanding knowledge of very technical aspects of immigration law.”
Legal 500 2013

“He is very bright and hard-working and he thinks of really good points.”
Chambers UK 2013

‘He is widely regarded as a “fantastic advocate.”‘
Chambers UK 2012

“Extremely innovative in his legal thought and always challenging of the legal environment.”
Chambers UK 2011


Ronan’s practice covers all areas of asylum and immigration. He edits Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice, the leading practitioners’ text. As a result of that and of having worked in the area since 1989 he has a detailed knowledge and understanding of the complex and changing interrelationship of international and European law, domestic legislation, immigration rules and policies and judicial decisions that make immigration and asylum a complicated area law. Consequently he is able to identify practical and creative solutions to his clients’ immigration problems; to give clear and comprehensive advice and to assist in ensuring the most effective presentation of their cases to the immigration authorities and to the courts and tribunals.

He has recently been instructed in cases involving challenges to:

  • Refusals of applications for leave to remain under the points based system and under the family immigration rules
  • The withdrawal of sponsorship licences
  • The deportation of individuals convicted of manslaughter and of conspiracy to import heroin and of individuals with serious mental illnesses
  • Decisions to remove individuals that would cause catastrophic harm to their health
  • Decisions to remove long resident individuals
  • Denial of rights of appeal
  • Detention under Immigration Act powers
  • He has also been instructed in civil claims for damages for unlawful detention and damages for refoulement

A growing part of Ronan’s practice consists of cases concerned with trafficking in human beings, including: appeals against deportation of victims of trafficking; claims for judicial review of the Home Office’s conduct and policy in relation to trafficking victims; an intervention in the Supreme Court in a case where the Court of Appeal held that a victim of trafficking was not entitled to recover damages from her traffickers owing to her unlawful presence in the UK; civil claims for violations of victims’ Article 4 ECHR rights and exploration of remedies in respect of systemic failures by the UK to protect victims of trafficking.

Ronan has made a number of fact-finding visits to Kenya and Djibouti to gather evidence for use in Somalis’ asylum and family reunion appeals, including in a number of country guidance cases.

He has been actively involved in lobbying on behalf of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association in respect of legislative, rules and policy changes.

Significant cases

Akhalu (health claim: ECHR Art. 8) Nigeria [2013] UKUT 400 (IAC)
Whether removing a person with the result that she would suffer catastrophic consequences for her health would breach Article 8.

Ahmad and others (removal of children over 18) Pakistan [2012] UKUT 267 (IAC)
Whether children over the age of 18 could be removed as members of the family of another person given removal directions under Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, s. 10.

AMM and others (Confict; humanitarian crisis; returnees; FGM) Somalia [2011] UKUT 445 (IAC)
Country guidance case about Somalia.

Secretary of State for the Home Department v Pankina [2010] EWCA Civ 719
Whether the Secretary of State could lawfully include elements of the points based system in policy documents rather than immigration rules.

HXA v The Home Office [2010] EWHC 1177 QB
Claim for damages for unlawful detention.

R (Abdillahi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWHC 808 Admin
Judicial review of detention pending deportation.

HH (Somalia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 426
Whether an individual could win an appeal on asylum or human rights grounds on the basis that he or she would be at risk of harm en route to a safe home area.

R (AM (Somalia)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 114
Whether certification of a human rights claim, after an appeal had commenced, could bring the appeal to an end.

BA (Nigeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] UKSC 7
In what circumstances the making of human rights claim entitled an individual to appeal against an immigration decision whilst still in the UK.

AM and AM (armed conflict; risk categories) Somalia CG [2008] UKAIT 0091
Country guidance case about Somalia.

CN (Burundi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2007] EWCA Civ 587
Whether removal of an individual would breach Article 3 of the ECHR owing to the consequences for his mental health.

MB (OLF and MTA; risk) Ethiopia CG [2007] UKAIT 00030
Country guidance case about Ethiopia.

Secretary of State for the Home Department v JJ and others [2006] EWCA Civ 1141
Whether conditions attached to a control order breached Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Abdullah v Yusuf [2005] EWHC 737 QB
Claim for damages against Abdullahi Yusuf, subsequently president of Somalia, for the unlawful killing of a British citizen in Somalia.

MN (Town Tunnis regarded as Bravanese) Somalia CG [2004] UKIAT 224
Country guidance case about Somalia.

R (Ozcan) v Immigration Appeal Tribunal [2002] EWCA Civ 1183
Whether removal of an asylum seeker to Turkey exposed him to risk of persecution.

Saad, Diriye and Osorio v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2001] EWCA Civ 2008
Whether an appeal on asylum grounds could succeed even though the appellant had leave to remain and so was not facing removal from the UK.


Ronan regularly provides training for the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association on subjects that have included: advocacy, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and new legislation.


  • Ronan is a general editor of Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice
  • He was a consultant editor of Halsbury’s Laws of England: Immigration and Asylum
  • He is an author of Blackstone’s Guide to the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009
  • He is a former contributor to Blackstone’s Criminal Practice and the author of articles in Immigration and Nationality Law and Practice