Garden Court Chambers Team Bios
Sonali Naik QC is an award winning, leading public law and immigration practitioner with 30 years’ experience. Sonali is ranked in Chambers UK 2020 and the Legal 500. She has acted in various leading and test cases in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, many of which concern human rights, challenges to government policy, including asylum, trafficking and unlawful detention. Much of Sonali’s work centres on the treatment of women in the domestic and international legal systems and the pursuance of women’s equality and justice.
Sonali is Chair of Liberty and a trustee of Freedom From Torture and the Immigrant’s Aid Trust (charitable arm of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants), a member of the JUSTICE Council and she was appointed to the JUSTICE Working Group on Reform of Immigration and Asylum system. She won Lawyer of the Year at the Diversity Legal Awards 2018. She won Highly Commended for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion at the Chambers Bar Awards 2019. She was a finalist for Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in 2016 and was featured as The Times’ Lawyer of the Week in January 2018. In 2019, as a Patron of Clean Break Theatre Company she appeared in one of their 40th anniversary events, Gender, justice and women’s rights: change, progress and the future’ in conversation with the Director of Inquest, Deborah Coles. She has recently been appointed as the Chair of the Anti-Racism Commission at Lincoln College, Oxford.
Amanda Weston QC is a public law silk specialising in highly complex, sensitive and contentious cases, primarily in civil liberties, human rights, equality and discrimination. She acted for two of the four appellant mothers in the recent Court of Appeal test cases on the treatment of coercive control by the family courts. She also takes on Inquiry work and advises on international and European public law.
Adept at dealing with complex and demanding cases involving a large volume of evidence, Amanda acted in the Lewisham Independent People’s Commission of Inquiry into government plans to downgrade Lewisham Hospital. She has recently been advising on draft amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in respect of women primary carers. Amanda co-authors Judicial Review: A Practical Guide (Lexis Nexis) and is a member of the ‘A’ Panel of preferred Counsel who act for the Equality & Human Rights Commission and is a member of the Executive of the Bar Human Rights Committee. Described by the Legal 500 as "extraordinarily committed to her work in relation to disadvantaged groups", Amanda is a passionate advocate for the rights of women and the disempowered.
Nicola Braganza - Barrister
Leading Barristers located in London, UK
Nicola Braganza is a highly experienced public law and discrimination barrister whose practice spans discrimination, equality, civil liberties, human rights, Immigration and Asylum. She is recognised in the Legal 500 and in Chambers & Partners as a leading barrister in Employment law, for her discrimination work, in Immigration, and in Civil Liberties and Human Rights. She recently acted, alongside Amanda Weston QC, in the Lewisham Independent People’s Commission of Inquiry into government plans to downgrade Lewisham Hospital.
Nicola regularly provides training and workshops on equality issues and has been an invited speaker at the European Academy of Law, Germany, on the EU Directives on Equality and Anti-Discrimination for many years. She has trained practitioners and judges across the EU on equality issues. In 2017 Nicola presented on the inclusion of intersectional discrimination in the draft Anti-Discrimination Directive to the Working Group on Social Questions of the Council of the EU in Brussels. In 2018 Nicola gave evidence on the Home Office Race Disparity Audit paper before the Women and Equalities Committee. In May last year, Nicola was appointed a part-time Employment Judge and a part-time Tribunal Judge on the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Over the last 28 years, Nicola has successfully acted for many claimants in discrimination claims against a range of employers, including public authorities, multi-national corporations, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. Most recently, she represented several women in the Armed Forces in a human rights challenge concerning the handling of sexual violence offences by the MoD, which led to the recent launch of an inquiry by the Defence Committee on 'Women in the Armed Forces: From Recruitment to Civilian Life' with over 4,000 submissions to date. Nicola is also currently acting for a number of other women in the Armed Forces on separate discrimination and victimisation claims.
Nicola recently spoke at the Garden Court Chambers International Women’s Day event ‘A step back for equality? Covid-19 and the impact on women's socio-economic rights’ on the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on women's socio-economic rights in both a domestic and international context. Nicola spoke about how the pandemic has further entrenched inequality in our society and how we must push back against this.
Louise Hooper - Barrister
Louise Hooper is an established public law, human rights and migration lawyer. Her practice over the last 20 years has involved a focus on human rights, equality and dignity. Louise has worked extensively with the Council of Europe as an international expert on gender and law.
This work has involved designing and developing offline and online training on the Istanbul Convention on Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, conducting baseline country evaluations of compliance with the Istanbul Convention and writing the guide to ‘Gender based asylum claims and non-refoulement: Articles 60 and 61 of the Istanbul Convention’. She is currently the appointed international expert to the Drafting committee on Migrant Women of the Gender Equality Commission.
She co-authored the ICJ’s Practitioner Guide to Refugee Status Claims Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2016) with Livio Zilli and contributed to Butterworths’ Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Law and Practice (1st Edition). She is a contributor and reader for Legal Action Group’s Migrant Support Handbook (forthcoming) and is a regular contributor to MacDonald’s Immigration Law and Practice, previously writing chapters on human rights, deportation, family migration, trafficking and citizenship.
Louise also has an interest in whether or not algorithms can ever be ‘fair’ or whether they can contribute to unfair prejudice against women. In March 2020, Louise hosted a Garden Court Chambers International Women's Day event ‘Is artificial intelligence good for women?’. She has also spoken on the human rights implications of global deployment of public health technology at the African Legal Network international webinar ‘Data Surveillance Viral Pandemics’ and on the subject of accountability and AI at CogX.
Grace Brown - Barrister
Leading Barristers located in London, UK
Grace Brown is an experienced public law practitioner with a particular focus on human rights, immigration and refugee law. She commenced practice in 1995 inspired by the desire to promote the rights of the under privileged and disadvantaged and quickly established herself as a well-respected and busy human rights and immigration barrister.
Grace represents clients in a wide range of immigration cases. Her specialisms include cases involving gender-specific persecution, domestic violence, the rights of the child and family migration. One of Grace’s recent reported cases involved consideration by a Presidential panel of the risks of FGM and for single women in Sierra Leone. Her blog on this can be found here. Grace’s work overlaps with other areas of law including community care, civil claims, environmental law and education. She has an empathetic but efficient approach to her cases which has proven to be both effective and productive.
Grace is an experienced barrister and is appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s preferred Panel of Counsel. She is the Equality and Diversity Officer at Garden Court Chambers and undertakes regular training in areas including diversity and inclusion.
Maria Moodie - Barrister
Leading Barristers located in London, UK
Maria Moodie has a specialist public law practice in the areas of community care (Adult and Children Act cases), human trafficking, migrant welfare, housing, and immigration and asylum law.
Maria has in recent years undertaken work for GREVIO; the Council of Europe's body on monitoring states’ compliance with the Istanbul Convention - the Convention to end Sexual and Gender based violence and domestic violence against women. Maria co-drafted GREVIO's mid-term report that launched in May 2021 on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention. Maria’s specialist expertise of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), in the context of immigration and asylum law, was sought in relation to Chapter VII of this significant report. Maria has also acted as the International Expert on GREVIO's country evaluation visits to France (2017), Belgium (2019) and The Netherlands (2019), and later this year will be participating in the country evaluation visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Norway, which involves undertaking a detailed analysis of domestic legislation and policy and advising GREVIO on issues pertaining to the protection and support of migrant and asylum-seeking women and girls in these countries.
In her domestic practice, Maria has developed niche expertise in the area of human trafficking. She frequently advises and represents victims of trafficking in public law challenges concerning age disputes, the proper identification of victims, access to support and the enforcement of the positive obligations arising under Article 4 ECHR. She is co-author of the chapter on Human Trafficking in Macdonald's Immigration Law and Practice (9th Edition) and co-authored the chapter on Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, Care Leavers and Victims of Trafficking in the forthcoming Migrant Support Handbook (published by LAG later this year).
Maria was a previously a visiting lecturer at City University, London, where she taught the LLM module in 'International Human Rights Law and Practice' and in 2014 was seconded to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as a Pegasus Scholar. In 2016 and 2017 Maria spent time volunteering in the refugee camps in Greece to offer pro bono legal advice to unaccompanied children seeking family reunification elsewhere in Europe.
Smita Bajaria - Solicitor
Smita Bajaria has practised immigration and asylum law since 1990.
She has undertaken cases ranging from initial applications through to appeals before the First Tier and Upper Tribunals and higher courts.
Smita has been the immigration supervisor at established practices committed to public funding. She has previously worked at Clore and Co, Fisher Meredith, Birnberg Peirce and Sutovic and Hartigan.
She has been a private sole practitioner since 2016 and now based in West London. She focuses on providing the best possible immigration advice to her clients supporting them through the legal process.
In the last decade, she has been involved in test litigation involving foreign national prisoners in immigration detention, exclusion of individuals from the UK on national security grounds and deprivation of citizenship cases.
She has also taught clinical practice on the University of Law’s Trainee Litigation Programme.
Smita specialises in appeals challenging deportation and cases involving children specifically where clients seek to regularise their status on the basis of family life and those who lack mental capacity. She also works on cases involving trafficking of young women and children.
Acknowledged to be a leading Immigration lawyer and was recognised as such by the Chambers Law Directory, in 2011, when she was awarded the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in the Immigration category.
Smita occasionally contributes to the Law Society Gazette and is also a part time legal officer at Rights of Women.