Emma Harris

Call: 2011

Practice areas

Public Access : Yes


  • LLB (Hons), 2:1 (University of Warwick)
  • Bar Professional Training Course, Very Competent (Nottingham Law School)


Emma has a mixed common-law practice covering the areas of Immigration, Refugee & Asylum, Administrative/Judicial Review and Civil law. She welcomes instructions that are either privately funded or legally aided and is also happy to assist on a Public Access basis where appropriate.

Emma has created the Nationality Advice Service which provides assistance either directly on a Public Access basis or through a solicitor with all matters relating to British Nationality and Citizenship including Status Tracing, Advice on Eligibility to Apply for British Citizenship (or Indefinite Leave to Remain) and Application Checking. Emma has experience in assisting people with all kinds of British Citizenship including British Overseas Citizens and British National (Overseas) Citizens as well as people who are Stateless.


Emma is an experienced immigration, asylum and nationality law specialist. Although she is busy in her practice, she is known by those who instruct her as being incredibly responsive and approachable and as someone who treats each case with the care that the subject-matter often requires.

Emma does not shy away from complex legal issues and she routinely appears in the First-Tier and Upper Tribunals on appeal and in Judicial Review proceedings. She is also increasingly instructed in cases progressing to the Court of Appeal.

Emma has a particular passion for nationality law matters and has experience in advising as well as representing on nationality and statelessness matters including for former Malaysian nationals who have taken British Overseas Citizen (“BOC”) status and for children born in the UK without a nationality. She was led in the High Court by Sarabjit Singh QC in the case of Teh v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 1586 (Admin) concerning the statelessness of BOCs and has set up a Nationality Advice Service (www.nationalityadvice.co.uk) to assist clients with all manner of nationality issues on a public access basis. She also uses that site to publish regular updates on matters relating to nationality law.


Emma has developed her practise in many areas of Civil Law, and she advises and appears on behalf of clients in the County Court on applications and trials conducted on the Fast-Track and Multi-Track. In addition to those set out below, Emma has experience of contractual disputes, debt recovery, insolvency and harassment proceedings.

Landlord & Tenant: Emma acts for Landlords and Tenants in the fields of residential and commercial property including in claims for possession, forfeiture and in 1954 Act proceedings.

Property law: Emma advises and litigates all aspects of real property, including boundary disputes, nuisance, trespass, adverse possession, and legal and equitable interests in land.

Public Access

Emma is qualified and registered to accept instruction on a Public Access basis. She is happy to accept Public Access instruction in the areas of Immigration and Civil Law where appropriate.

Related Cases

  • KG (Sri Lanka) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Court of Appeal Ref: C2/2018/2874)

Emma Harris was permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal as the Court found it arguable that the Secretary of State for the Home Department had breached her duty under Article 22 of the Procedures Directive by compelling her client to attend an unsupervised interview at the Sri Lankan High Commission where it was reasonable foreseeable that he would be questioned about the asylum claim that he had made in the UK.

Emma Harris, led by Sarabjit Singh QC of 1 Crown Office Row and instructed by Barnes, Harrild & Dyer Solicitors, appeared in the reported case of Teh v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 1586 (Admin) in which it was successfully argued that British Overseas Citizens (“BOCs”) holding no other nationality are stateless for the purposes of Article 1(1) of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and paragraph 401 of the Immigration Rules.

British Overseas Citizenship is a relic of Colonialism held by many individuals whose parents were born in former British Colonies before those countries gained their independence. The status does entitle its holder to a British passport but it gives a person no right to live in the UK or in any other country. In 2002, those who held only BOC passports became entitled to register as full British Citizens (by the operation of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 which introduced s.4B to the British Nationality Act 1981). However, any person who renounced or voluntarily lost another nationality after July 2002 was excluded from registering for full British Citizenship. Unfortunately, a large number of BOCs who also held Malaysian Citizenship upon arriving in the UK, received poor legal advice and were encouraged by their advisers to renounce their Malaysian Citizenship even after July 2002 in the mistaken belief that this was still a route open to them to obtain full British Citizenship. Those who did so, however, found themselves in legal limbo; unable to complete the transition to full British Citizenship, with no legal right to remain in the UK despite their British passports and, having renounced their Malaysian Citizenship, with no explicit right to return to Malaysia either.

In Teh it was held that such persons, because their BOC passports do not entitle them to live anywhere in the world, are stateless for the purposes of the 1954 Convention as they are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law.

In order to obtain limited leave to remain in the UK as a stateless person, however, a person must also satisfy the other requirements set out in paragraph 403 of the Immigration Rules which includes a requirement to demonstrate that the Claimant is not “admissible” to any other country.

Although it was conceded by the Defendant that there is no written agreement in place between the UK government and the Malaysian Authorities, and that the agreed policy that has been in place since 2014 has yet to be made public, the Judge found that the Claimant had failed to demonstrate that this policy is not operational and that former-Malaysian BOCs are not “admissible” to Malaysia for the purposes of paragraph 403(c) of the Immigration Rules.


Ms Harris (instructed by Nag Law Solicitors) successfully argued in the Upper Tribunal that the First-Tier Judge had erred in law and had failed to correctly apply the Country Guidance case of GJ (Sri Lanka) by finding that her client had given evidence to the LLRC (Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission) in Sri Lanka about an abduction, perpetrated by the Sri Lankan authorities, that he had witnessed during the civil war, but that he was not at risk on return because he had not given evidence about a “war crime”. The argument turned on the definition of a “war crime” and the First-Tier’s reasoning was held to have “no real substance”. The First-Tier’s decision was set aside and the client’s asylum claim was allowed by the Upper Tribunal.


In a Pakistani Ahmadi asylum claim, it had not been accepted that the Appellant and her husband were genuinely of the Ahmadi faith. However, it was accepted that they had joined the Ahmadi faith in order to bolster their asylum claim and they had met and been photographed with His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide leader of Ahmadiyya. Those photographs were accepted to have been published in newspapers in Pakistan and on Facebook. It was successfully argued by Ms Harris (instructed by Thompson & Co Solicitors) that, as being identified as an Ahmadi in Pakistan is considered to be proselytising in and of itself, the publication of these photographs was arguably capable of having put this couple at risk on return to Pakistan. The matter was remitted to be reheard in full by the First-Tier and for this issue to be properly considered.


In a human rights appeal where the client had a British child living in the UK, the First-Tier expressly found that the client had a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with the child and that it would be reasonable or in the child’s best interests to expect the child to leave the UK. Despite this finding, the First-Tier Judge went on to find that the child would in reality remain in the UK with her British mother and that neither the child nor the mother would be compelled to follow the father to India. The child could reasonably continue the relationship with her father using modern means of communication and by visiting her father. Ms Harris (instructed by ATM Law Solicitors) successfully argued that this approach was wholly incompatible with the provisions of 117B(6) and KO (Nigeria) which have clearly set out that the public interest does not require the removal of a British child’s parent where it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK.



  • Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association
  • Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association


  • Middle Temple Benefactor’s Scholarship Award

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Emma Harris
10 King's Bench Walk
London EC4Y 7EB
(t) +44 (0)20 7353 7742
(f) +44 (0)20 7583 0579
(DX) 24 LDE