Leigh Day Windrush lawyers speakers at Commonwealth Law Conference in Goa
Leigh Day human rights specialists Jacqueline McKenzie and Frances Swaine shared lessons from their work at the Commonwealth Law Conference in Goa.
Posted on 13 March 2023
Head of immigration and asylum law, Jacqueline delivered a paper on refugee rights and consultant solicitor Frances spoke on model litigant rules – how to keep the Government in check when bringing a legal action against them.
The conference introduced the lawyers as among over 150 of the Commonwealth legal fraternity’s foremost speakers, thinkers, visionaries and practitioners.
Other keynote speakers included the India Minister for Justice, the Governor of Goa, other members of the governments. More than 500 people attended the conference from across the various commonwealth jurisdictions.
Jacqueline was introduced as the UK’s leading advocate for victims of the Windrush Scandal. In addition to representing hundreds of claimants, she was a member of the Independent Advisory Group set up by the government to oversee the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, sat on the Home Office’s Windrush Stakeholder’s Advisory Group, sat on the Administrative Justice Council’s review of the Windrush Compensation Scheme. She gave evidence to the Parliamentary Home Affairs and Justice Committees on the Windrush Compensation Scheme, and the conditions of female foreign nationals in UK prisoners.
Currently Jacqueline represents asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who are detained in the British Indian Overseas Territory of Diego Garcia, a potential victim of modern slavery who was due to be flown to Rwanda under the UK government’s Migration and Economic Development, Partnership with that country, and is taking action against the British government for the conditions in which asylum seekers in the UK were held in the Manston short term immigration holding facility.
Frances, who set up the first human rights department in England and Wales at Leigh Day, recently stepped back as managing partner at Leigh Day. Now she works as a consultant solicitor to Jacqueline’s team and recently launched a campaign for reparations for African Caribbean people who were wrongly classed as educationally subnormal in the English education systems of the 1960s and 70s.
Jacqueline McKenzie said:
The timing of the conference was fortuitous as it coincided with the announcement of the UK government’s Illegal Migration Bill which pits them in direct contravention of its obligations under international law, and is equally pernicious in its lack of safeguards for children seeking asylum. Delegates at the conference were surprised to learn that a wealthy country like the UK would seek to shun its international responsibilities when you compare the 45,000 people who crossed the channel in 2022, to the 2 million Ukrainians taken in by Poland in the same year. Delegates resolved to look for a new paradigm on refugee rights given the strictures of a convention that is over 70 years old.
Frances Swaine said:
“The Model Litigant Guidelines” which are part of Australia’s legislation now, and intended to bring government to account in how litigation by government (and taxpayer’s money) is conduced, has been shown not to work. Without the teeth to police and enforce the good intentions, the ethics of the lawyers concerned are as good a model as any. However, if the legislation was properly enforced - as intended - a lot of government delay and misuse of funds would be prevented.”
Frances was the firm’s first managing partner from 2010 to 2021, and was a partner in the regulatory and disciplinary department, the human rights department, and clinical negligence department.