Sonia was very good at relating to the family in a particularly sensitive case.

Overview

Sonia is a housing law specialist with a particular expertise in cases involving discrimination. She graduated from Wadham College, Oxford with a 2:1 in Jurisprudence. She went on to achieve a Very Competent on the BVC at the University of the West of England. The following year, Sonia spent 7 months working as part of the Travellers Advice Team with Community Law Partnership in Birmingham, where she dealt with housing related issues on behalf of Travellers and Gypsies. She then went on to complete a mixed pupillage at Albion Chambers, Bristol.

Sonia began her career as a criminal defence specialist and appeared at all levels, including the Court of Appeal and High Court (R v Stokoe [2006] All ER (D) 120 (Dec)). On joining Garden Court North Chambers, Sonia developed an expertise in housing law. She also represents claimants in actions against the police.

In 2016, Sonia spent 3 months working on a voluntary, part-time basis with the Greater Manchester Law Centre in their development team. Sonia set up the LASP project, which provides student representatives for people appealing negative ESA decisions.

Discrimination

Sonia has expertise in bringing a discrimination focus to housing cases including possession, injunction and homelessness proceedings. In recent years, she has extended her expertise to the arenas of education and goods and services and is developing her expertise in race discrimination.

Examples of Sonia’s work includes:

  • X v University of Y: Settlement in a case between a profoundly deaf student and her University about reasonable adjustments;
  • X v Holiday company Y: Settlement in a case between a Gypsy family and a large holiday company about the refusal to provide a holiday on the grounds of race; and
  • X(by his litigation friend Y) v Shop Z: Settlement in a case between a child and a large store about disability discrimination following attempts to prevent the child from using his wheelchair in the store.

Housing

Sonia has expertise in all aspects of defending possession claims, injunction proceedings, unlawful eviction matters, and acting in homeless cases including appeals.

Sonia appears at all levels from county court to High Court and is regularly instructed in appeals at all levels.

Sonia has particular expertise in dealing with clients lacking capacity and is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor. This can be in the context of Wookey injunction cases, but is more often in the context of housing matters relying on defences under the Equality Act 2010 when there is often considerable overlap with community care law.

Examples of Sonia’s work includes:

  • X v Local Authority Y (County Court): Disabled Gypsy couple appeal by way of s204 Housing Act 1996 against decision to make final offer of ‘bricks and mortar’ accommodation;
  • X v Local Authority Y (County Court): Disabled tenant appeals against possession order on grounds that Judge was wrong not to allow her to obtain representation particularly as there was evidence of an arguable disability discrimination defence under the Equality Act 2010; and
  • X Local Authority v Y (County Court): Disabled tenant defends possession proceedings on grounds that her disability led to an escalated conflict between herself and Claimant’s staff a matter in respect of which reasonable adjustments should have been provided.

Civil actions against the police and public authorities

Sonia is instructed to represent claimants in all aspects of claims against the police. In trials, she is able to draw on her experience as a criminal defence advocate when she developed an expertise in cross examination of police officers.

Examples of Sonia’s work includes:

  • X v Chief Constable of Y Constabulary: Settlement in a claim for damages for unlawful arrest and detention and assault arising out of unlawful stop and searches and arrest without proper grounds for involvement in an offence committed by a sole offender; and
  • X v Chief Constable of Y Constabulary: Settlement in claim for damages arising out of unlawful arrest and detention wherein Claimant was seriously injured during arrest after scuffle with arresting officer resulted in Claimant falling down an embankment. Resultant injuries caused permanent scarring.

Public law (judicial review)

Sonia deals with public law arguments within housing law at all levels of work, including in the context of defending possession claims (usually alongside article 8 arguments), Equality Act 2010 defences and homelessness appeals.

Injunctions and breaches of injunction

Sonia is experienced in defending applications for injunctions and breaches of injunctions.

Publications and media appearances

Sonia regularly presents seminars on housing topics and spoke at the 2017 Justice conference.

Memberships

  • Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC);
  • Association of Asian Women Lawyers (AAWL);
  • Liberty;
  • Justice; and
  • Levenshulme Good neighbours (management committee member and befriender).

 

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