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‘An innovative and progressive set that continues to be instructed in high-profile and often law-defining cases.’Chambers and Partners 2014
Raj Desai

Contact: Practice Manager:

Raj Desai practices in the fields of general public and human rights law, including prison law, civil actions against the police, inquests and inquiries work, equality law, asylum and immigration, and education law. He also has experience of international law work, in particular applications to the European Court of Human Rights.

Raj became a member in October 2011 upon completion of his traineeship at Matrix. Since beginning accepting instructions in April 2011, Raj has carried out a broad range of appearance and advisory work in his practice areas. The bulk of his practice relates to applications for judicial review, but his practice also encompasses civil damages claims in the High Court and County Court (in particular, actions against the police and unlawful immigration detention claims), appeals before the First and Upper Tier Tribunals, appearances before the Parole Board, Inquest and inquiries, various appellate work, and applications to the European Court of Human Rights.

Raj’s clients are predominantly individuals, but he is also instructed by NGOs, public authorities, regulatory bodies, and companies. Raj believes in the importance of high quality representation and advice for all regardless of their means, and is pleased to accept instructions from legally aided clients. Where funding is not available, he will accept instructions on a pro bono basis where able to do so.

Before joining the Bar, Raj qualified as a solicitor at Sharpe Pritchard solicitors. He subsequently worked as judicial assistant to the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and Lord Justice (now Lord) Carnwath at the Court of Appeal. He has also worked for the Human Rights Department of the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office in Melbourne, Australia. Raj holds a first class undergraduate law degree and postgraduate law degree from Oxford University. He is a co-author of the forthcoming edition of Blackstone’s Guide to the Human Rights Act (7th ed, OUP) and a contributing author to Criminal Justice and Human Rights (3rd ed, Sweet & Maxwell) and Prison Law (5th ed, OUP, forthcoming). Raj is currently a Senior Retained Lecturer in Administrative Law at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, he has taught undergraduate human rights law at Oxford University, and is currently teaching on the postgraduate (BCL) criminal justice and human rights course.

Raj is security cleared by the Home Office.

Notable cases

  • R (Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business and Student Loans Company ([2014] EWCA civ 1216; High Court: [2014] EWHC 2452 (Admin)) – challenge to exclusion of non-nationals with discretionary leave to remain from eligibility for student loans (led by Helen Mountfield QC). An application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court pending.
  • R (Catt) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis – UKSC 2013/0114 – challenge to compatibility of retention of personal data of a peaceful protestor on a domestic extremist police database with Article 8. Heard by the Supreme Court on 2-4 December 2014. Led by Tim Owen QC and with Alison Macdonald.
  • Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Assan – challenge in High Court to the compatibility of the regime of terrorism notification orders based on foreign conviction in Schedule 4 of the Counter-terrorism Act 2008, with Articles 3 and 8.
  • (Khatib) v Secretary of State for Justice (CO/4077/2014); R(Assad Sarwar) v Secretary of State for Justice (CO/4455/2014); R(Abdulla) v Secretary of State for Justice CO/837/2014 – various challenges to classification of Category A terrorist prisoners to High Escape Risk status and the associated review procedures.
  • R (Miranda) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWHC 255 (Admin); [2014] 1 W.L.R. 3140; [2014] 3 All E.R. 447 – judicial review of detention (and seizure of Snowden files) of Guardian journalist Glen Grenwald’s partner, David Miranda, under Schedule 7 Terrorism Act 2000 powers, and challenge to human rights compatibility of Schedule 7 powers (led by Matthew Ryder QC, and with Eddie Craven). Permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal granted.
  • R (Rogaczewska) v Independent Police Complaints Commission – challenge to final IPCC independent investigation report in respect of death in custody of a man restrained in the prone position for a prolonged period by police officers following detention under s.136 of the MHA.
  • Mohidin and Khan v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] EWHC 2740 QB – successful High Court civil action for racially motivated assault and false imprisonment of two teenagers by TSG officers in which the Commissioner took the highly unusual step of joining the individual officers as Part 20 Defendants. Led by Phillippa Kaufmann QC.
  • Inquest into the death by hanging of an informally detained child with serious mental health issues at Ticehurst House (run by the Priory Group) – on-going. Led by Hugh Southey QC.
  • Inquest into the death of Satheesthkumar Mahathevan – Article 2 Inquest regarding death by hanging in Pentonville prison. Jury findings of failures by the prison in relation to information sharing, multi agency communication procedures and inadequate training for staff contributed to this accident. Rule 28 report made by Coroner.
  • DEFRA v Information Commissioner and Badger Trust [2014] UKUT 0526 (AAC) (Charles J, Judge Warren and A Whetnall) – represented Badger Trust in Freedom of Information Act appeal regarding withholding of Risk and Information Logs by DEFRA relating to the formulation of the Government’s controversial badger culling policy.
  • Daniel v State of Trinidad and Tobago [2014] AC 1290, [2014] 2 WLR 1154 – appeal to Privy Council against conviction for murder and death penalty challenging application of ‘self-induced provocation’ doctrine, considering availability of provocation defence to felony-murder; and challenging Constitutionality of application of mandatory death penalty for felony-murder (led by Tim Owen QC).
  • R (on the application of London Borough of Lewisham and others) v Assessment and Qualifications Alliance and ors [2013] EWHC 211 (Admin) – acted for the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation in challenge to English GCSE marks (led by Helen Mountfield QC, and with Sarah Hannett).
  • R (Botmeh and Alami) v Health Professions Council [2013] EWHC 1895 (Admin) – judicial review of the health profession’s regulator’s summary rejection of complaint regarding registrant’s use of un-validated psychological risk assessment tools to assess risk of terrorist reoffending during Parole Board process.
  • Masatafa v HM Treasury [2012] EWHC 3578 (Admin) – application of Article 6 and common law fairness requirements of disclosure to special advocate appellate regime to challenge terrorist asset freezing orders (led by Dan Squires).
  • R (Aristizable) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis CO/4121/2012 – judicial review of police caution administered to demonstrator.
  • R (Hallett) v London Borough of Lambeth CO/4770/2012 – application for judicial review and urgent interim relief on behalf of a vulnerable client in “catch 22” situation of requiring provision of priority accommodation essential to obtaining re-release by the Parole Board where local authority refusing to provide housing until release was ordered.
  • SC v London Borough of Hackney [2012] UKUT 214 (AAC) – a lead appeal concerning parents’ entitlement to challenge Academy admission decisions under the SEN appeal regime in Part IV of the Education Act 1996.
  • Represented the Independent Police Complaints Commission at the Azelle Rodney Inquiry concerning a fatal police shooting. The inquiry was set up under the Inquiries Act 2005 to circumvent difficulties with the disclosure of intelligence evidence, which prevented an ECHR Article 2 compliant inquest being concluded (led by Jonathan Glasson QC).

Pro bono

  • Raj regularly accepts instructions on a pro bono basis. This work has ranged from representing clients before the First Tier Tribunal in SEN and immigration matters, to applications for judicial review in the High Court, applications to the European Court of Human Rights, and appeals to the Privy Council.
  • Raj has undertaken advisory and drafting work relating to applications to the European Court of Human Rights for individuals supported by the Democratic Progress Initiative (previously, the Kurdish Human Rights Project).
  • Raj represents immigration detainees seeking immigration bail who are assisted by Bail for Immigration Detainees (
  • Raj supervises student volunteers representing pupils permanently excluded from school who are seeking a review of their permanent exclusion via the City/Matrix Exclusions Project.
  • Raj was formerly a pro bono legal advisor at the Waterloo Legal Advice Centre.

Notable publications & research

  • Co-author, Blackstone’s Guide to the Human Rights Act (7th ed, OUP, forthcoming).
  • Contributing author, Prison Law (5th ed, OUP, forthcoming).
  • Contributing author, Criminal Justice and Human Rights (3rd ed, Sweet & Maxwell).
  • Researcher, Immigration, Asylum, and Human Rights (2nd ed, OUP, forthcoming).
  • Researcher, ‘The Evolution of Fundamental Rights Charters and Case Law: A Comparison of the United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union systems of human rights protection’, Study for the European Parliament Policy Department: Citizen’s Rights and Constitutional Affairs, European Parliament, February 2011.
  • Co-author, The Relationship Between Rights and Responsibilities, Ministry of Justice Research Series, December 2009.


BCL, Oxford University (2008)
LPC, Oxford Institute of Legal Practice (2005)
BA Law (1st Class), Oxford University (2004)


      Young Public Lawyers Group (Committee Member)


      Administrative Law Bar Association


      Human Rights Lawyers Association (former Executive Committee Member)


      Legal Action Group


      Police Actions Lawyers Group


      Prisoners Legal Rights Group


      Immigration Lawyers Practitioners Association






    Young Legal Aid Lawyers


Raj accepts instructions under the Bar Council Standard Contractual Terms, details of which can be found here.

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