Barriers and Threats to Access to Justice in the Immigration and Asylum System

Date / time
Date(s) - 07/12/2021
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


In 2018, JUSTICE published “Immigration and Asylum Appeals – a Fresh Look”. It made 49 practical recommendations aimed at reforming the considerable challenges faced by the UK immigration and asylum appeals system at a time of digitisation. Our recommendations have been incorporated into the new online service for immigration and asylum appeals, which has seen an increase in Home Office withdrawals, as well as having wider impact on the regulatory sector and Home Office processes. Three years after the report’s publication, the system has faced unprecedented strains and challenges through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the Home Office’s New Plan for Immigration, the Nationality and Borders Bill, and the Judicial Review and Courts Bill all promise fundamental changes to the way immigration and asylum decisions are made and challenged within our system.

Chaired by Sonali Naik QC, this event will discuss challenges and uncertainties in the future of access to justice within immigration and asylum. Our panellists include Bella Sankey (Director, Detention Action), Adrian Berry (Barrister, Garden Court Chambers; Patron, ILPA), Alison Pickup (Director, Asylum Aid), and Jawaid Luqmani (Solicitor, Luqmani Thompson & Partners).

To book your ticket, please email

This webinar is part of a series of JUSTICE Working Parties at Work events, taking a closer look at specific recommendations suggested by our working parties and the impact that they have had on the justice system.

Chair: Sonali Naik QC, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 1991) (Year of Silk: 2018)
Sonali Naik QC is a senior public law and immigration practitioner with over 28 years’ experience who specialises in public law cases and in all aspects of immigration, asylum and nationality law. Sonali is ranked for immigration in Chambers UK 2020 and has a significant Higher Courts practice. She conducts almost exclusively leading work at all levels: the Court of Appeal, the Administrative Court and in the Upper Tribunal in statutory appeals and judicial reviews. She has very substantial immigration and asylum experience in her High Court and appellate court practice, acting in various country guidance asylum cases, most recently in AS(Afghanistan) in the Court of Appeal, the latest leading case on internal relocation. Sonali has an extensive judicial review practice in the areas of Article 8 ECHR certification, nationality, challenges to Home Office policy, trafficking and unlawful detention.

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) and 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.

Adrian Berry, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers; Patron, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA)
Adrian specialises in British nationality law, statelessness, immigration detention, deportation and removals, economic migration/mobility in international treaties, EU law and Withdrawal Agreement mobility law, human rights for migrants, homelessness and housing allocations, accommodation under community care and children’s law, social assistance and social security, and education law.

In addition to his case work, he works on migration policy issues and on influencing work on Bills that concern migration. 


Jawaid Luqmani, Solicitor, Luqmani Thompson & Partners
Jawaid Luqmani is a Partner at Luqmani Thompson & Partners, practising in immigration and public law.

His former roles include Chief Assessor of the Law Society Immigration and Asylum Accreditation scheme, Treasurer of Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA), external assessor for Bar Direct access scheme (immigration), a panel member of JUSTICE’s Working Party report on immigration and asylum, and Legal Aid Practitioner Group (LAPG) committee member.

He is currently on the Access to Justice Committee of the Law Society, and Advisory Committee of the LAPG. Jawaid was appointed to the Council of the Law Society in October 2021, and for the past 25 years has written updates for the Legal Action Group magazine on immigration.

Alison Pickup, Director, Asylum Aid
Alison Pickup is Director of Asylum Aid where she leads an expert team providing legal representation to asylum seekers and refugees.

Asylum Aid is part of the Helen Bamber Foundation Group. Before joining Asylum Aid (in November 2021), Alison was the Legal Director of the Public Law Project. At PLP, Alison led its work on the access to justice issues in the New Plan for Immigration and on judicial review reform. In June 2020, Alison was awarded the Outstanding Employed Barrister in an NGO award by the Employed Barristers Committee of the Bar Council.



Bella Sankey, Director, Detention ACTION
Bella Sankey is Director of Detention Action, a national charity that seeks to defend the rights and improve the welfare of people in immigration detention. Detention Action supports people detained in Harmondsworth, Colnbrook and Morton Hall IRCs as well as those held under immigration powers in prison. The organisation successfully challenged the former Detained Fast Track system for asylum seekers, leading to its suspension by the Court of Appeal in 2015.

More recently Detention Action brought litigation concerning the lack of phone signal and access to justice at two detention centres before a planned charter flight to Jamaica, resulting in a Court of Appeal order that led to 25 individuals being removed from the flight. Detention Action is currently lobbying for an end to indefinite immigration detention via a strict 28 day time limit accompanied by judicial safeguards as well as fundamental reform to the deportation system. Bella was previously Deputy Director of Reprieve and Director of Policy at Liberty. She was called to the Bar in 2008.