Laura Dubinsky

Year of Call

Laura Dubinsky

Laura works extensively in immigration law, with a particular focus on refugee law, EU law and the ECHR; and in civil liberties litigation, including challenges to administrative detention through habeas corpus, judicial review and civil actions for damages. She also acts in other public law areas. Her international law work has focused on the prohibition of torture.


Her clients include both the legally aided and high net worth individuals; and she frequently acts for interveners in test litigation.


What the Directories say

Chambers and Partners


Listed as star of the Immigration Bar in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 Rankings; listed also in Civil Liberties (Band 3):


A leading light of the junior Bar, receiving effusive praise from a range of sources.’ Dubinsky is famed among peers and clients alike for her nous and insight into complex asylum and detention law. Her depth of knowledge is reflected by her routine appearances in the highest courts, where she frequently advises on landmark litigation concerning detention and removal.’ A ‘“top-end,” “tremendous” immigration law junior’.As well as a noted specialism in cases featuring foreign national prisoners, observers highlight her outstanding credentials in unlawful detention and national security cases.’ ‘Brilliant, hard-working, thorough and completely likeable.’  ‘She is innovative in the way she approaches the law, and leaves no stone unturned.’ ‘She is really cutting-edge - a class act.’ ‘She has a spectacular depth of knowledge when it comes to EU and ECHR law’  ‘She stands out as a result of her complete thoroughness and dedication to the job. ‘ ‘Meticulous and very driven, she is innovative in the way she approaches the law.‘ ‘She is an exceptionally accomplished junior in the field of immigration law’ .


Legal 500


Listed in Immigration (Band 1: ‘one of the best junior barristers’) and Civil Liberties (Band 3:‘a fearless advocate’); and Administrative and Public Law (Band 4). 


Chambers & Partners 100 list 2014


Juniors 100 List ‘a celebrated public lawyer, who has noted skill in prison law and actions against the police. It is, however, in the immigration arena that she really sparkles , and she regularly appears in the higher courts, including the Supreme Court, on matters of signal legal importance’ ‘Fantastically creative but also very client focussed, she does not let her undoubted enthusiasm for the law cloud what is the best outcome for the client.’



Most recently, Laura is the primary author of Foreign National Prisoners, Law and Practice, LAG 2012.



Before coming to the Bar, Laura Dubinsky worked as a senior trade union campaigner in the United States and Canada with UNITE, the North American textile and garment workers' union. She directed large-scale campaigns for trade union recognition and collective agreements.

Immigration Asylum and Personal

Laura was junior counsel for the appellant in a landmark case heard by the Grand Chamber of the CJEU on a preliminary reference (CS v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Case C‑165/14, ECLI:EU:C:2016:75). The Grand Chamber held that a third country national parent or carer could only be expelled, where this would cause the constructive expulsion of a dependent EU Citizen from the territory of the EU, where the third country national poses a ‘genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society’. 

Laura recently acted as leading counsel on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a country guidance appeal before the Upper Tribunal concerning Eritrea.  The Upper Tribunal found in MST and Others, UNHCR Intervening, (CG) [2016] UKUT 443 (IAC) that the Secretary of State’s guidance to her caseworkers concerning safety on return to Eritrea was unlawful; and reaffirmed earlier country guidance which extended higher protection to Eritrean asylum applicants.

Laura is currently acting as leading counsel in R (Help Refugees) v SSHD, a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s  interpretation and implementation of her duties under s.67 Immigration Act 2016 (‘the Dubs Amendment’).

Laura was junior counsel for the appellant in Nouazli v Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2016] UKSC 16; [2016] 1 WLR 1565 concerning the question of whether the detention power conferred by Regulation 24(1) of the EEA Regulations 2006 was compatible with EU law. The appeal before the Supreme Court was unsuccessful; the case is now the subject of an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

Laura's previous immigration and asylum cases include: R (Mayaya) v SSHD [2011] EWHC 3088 (Admin)/ C4/2011/3273, a successful test challenge to the SSHD's policies on leave to remain for foreign national former offenders (partially successful in Administrative Court, appeal on further points then allowed by consent in Court of Appeal); R (J) v SSHD [2009] EWHC 705 (Admin) (successful challenge and guidance case on certification under s.96 Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002); and HS (Afghanistan) v SSHD [2009] EWCA Civ 771 and M v SSHD [2006] EWCA Civ 798 (successful reasons challenges). In HJ and HT v SSHD [2010] UKSC 31, [2011] 1 AC 596. Laura was junior counsel for the Appellant HJ (successful Supreme Court challenge overturning a line of domestic authority holding that refugee status is to be denied to gay men who will avoid persecution on return by concealing their sexuality). 

Laura was junior counsel for the successful Defendant in an extradition appeal raising complex points of refugee law (Spain v Arranz [2015] EWHC 2305 (Admin)).

Laura acts in immigration detention challenges at all levels. She was junior counsel for the appellant WL in WL and KM v SSHD [2011] UKSC 12, [2011] 2 WLR (successful Supreme Court challenge to detention pursuant to an unlawful hidden policy, overturning line of authority which had held causation to be a defence to false imprisonment). Laura was sole counsel in the Administrative Court and junior counsel in the Court of Appeal in R (Abdi) v SSHD [2011] EWCA Civ 242; Times, March 11, 2011 (successful challenge to the detention of a former foreign national prisoner, guidance given on the relevance of time spent on appeal). She was sole counsel for the Intervener, Liberty, in R (Suppiah and Others) v SSHD [2011] EWHC 2 (Admin) (partially successful challenge to the detention of children under Immigration Act powers). Bail for Immigration Detainees (‘BID’) instructed Laura as junior counsel in R (SK) v SSHD [2011] UKSC 23, [2011] 1 WLR 1299 in which the Supreme Court held that a failure to carry out detention reviews, without more, rendered detention unlawful. She was most recently junior counsel for the Interveners BID and Medical Justice in the Supreme Court in O v Secretary of SSHD, [2016] UKSC 19, [2016] 1 WLR 1717. There, the Supreme Court gave helpful guidance on the interpretation of published Home Office policy on the detention of the mentally ill; and held that there was no statutory immunity from liability for public law errors where a person was detained following a court recommendation for deportation.

Laura is now acting in two applications before the ECtHR (one for an Applicant; the other for an Intervener) which have been communicated by the Court and which raise systemic challenges to the United Kingdom’s immigration detention regime. 

Actions Against the Police and Public Authorities

Laura's practice includes civil claims for damages. In E v the Home Office, Unreported, Central London County Court, 9CL01651, 10 June 2010, she acted for the successful claimant who was awarded £57,500 (including £25,000 exemplary damages) for a period of one month's unlawful detention. In S, C, D v Home Office Unreported, HQ09X01155, Queen's Bench Division Laura acted on behalf of three claimants who won damages exceeding £100,000 in total for a period of 3 and a half months' unlawful detention, including exemplary damages, before a Master.

Prison Law and Criminal Justice

Laura acted alone in R (Adelana) v SSHD [2008] EWHC 2612 (Admin) in which the SSJ's policy precluding the grant of Release on Temporary Licence for many prisoners subject to confiscation orders was found to be unlawful. She was junior counsel for the appellant in R (Francis) v SSHD [2012] EWCA Civ 1200, a primarily unsuccessful challenge to SSJ's policy on the grant of HDC to foreign national prisoners.

International Law

Laura has been instructed in litigation around the prohibition of torture. She was instructed as junior counsel by a consortium of human rights organisations intervening in A and Others v SSHD [2005] UKHL 71 (inadmissibility of evidence obtained under torture). She was also junior counsel for the Interveners in both the Court of Appeal and House of Lords in Ronald Jones & Others v Saudi Arabia [2006] UKHL 26 (sovereign immunity and claims against foreign states over torture).

Laura also acts in cases with an EU law dimension. She was recently junior counsel in CS v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Case C‑165/14, ECLI:EU:C:2016:75, a landmark case concerning the protections enjoyed by EU Citizens from constructive expulsion from EU territory.

She is also instructed in the ECtHR and is currently junior counsel in two applications which have been communicated by the ECtHR; and a further application awaiting communication. For details, please see Laura’s Immigration Asylum and Personal entry. 

Equality and Discrimination

Laura was junior counsel for one of the successful appellants in the landmark Supreme Court challenge concerning Refugee convention protection for gay and lesbian applicants. In HJ and HT v SSHD [2010] UKSC 31, [2011] 1 AC 596, the Supreme Court overturned a line of domestic authority holding that refugee status was to be denied to gay men who will avoid persecution on return by concealing their sexuality. 

Laura was junior counsel for the appellant in Nouazli v SSHD, [2016] UKSC 16, [2016] 1 WLR 1565. The Supreme Court held that a third country national exercising no EU law rights is not a permissible comparator for a person exercising free movement rights; so that secondary legislation can lawfully treat immigrants exercising EU free movement rights in the UK less favourably than third country nationals who are not. Nouazli is the subject of a current application before the ECtHR. 

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