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Sapna Malik winning human rights prize

Sapna Malik awarded Human Rights Lawyer of the Year award

Partner Sapna Malik from the International team at Leigh Day has been awarded the Human Rights Lawyer of the Year award at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2019.

Posted on 25 October 2019

In presenting the award, the Law Society stated that “Sapna is a prominent human rights lawyer who has run several ground-breaking test cases. She has proven herself to be a model for young lawyers, fighting fearlessly against huge odds. The judges were impressed by her outstanding dedication, commitment and perseverance.”
Sapna joined Leigh Day as a trainee 23 years ago and has run the most ground-breaking human rights cases in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  
Sapna’s successful cases have included the Iraq Civilian Litigation on behalf of hundreds of Iraqis. In four test cases, the High Court ruled in December 2017 that the claimants had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and unlawful detention in breach of the ECHR, the Geneva Convention and UK law.
She also represented the family of Baha Mousa who died following severe beatings, hooding and sleep deprivation by the British Army.

In 2018 the civil claim taken on behalf of Abdul-Hakim Belhaj an opponent of Gaddafi, who, together with his wife, was abducted with the assistance of MI6, back to Libya, was settled.  The terms agreed included an unreserved apology in Parliament by the Attorney General on behalf of the Prime Minister.
This unprecedented statement followed a Supreme Court decision to dismiss a challenge to Mr Belhaj’s claim against the government, Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen.  
The judgment developed the principles around State Immunity and Foreign Act of State and has far reaching implications. 
Richard Meeran the head of the International team at Leigh Day said:

“The cases Sapna takes on have been on the interface of topical issues of domestic and international law and international and national politics. As such her cases have been hugely controversial and perhaps unsurprisingly have generated substantial opposition and criticism, often excessive and abusive.
“Protection of human rights defenders is a global priority. This is not only a concern in states that are run by dictatorships but is a significant issue in the UK too.
“Sapna is a lawyer of enormous integrity who has shown great dedication and courage in order to secure justice for her clients against the most powerful of defendants.  In so doing, she has defended the rule of law and been responsible for developing important legal principles. We are delighted that the judges recognised this.”