Rudolph Spurling

Call: 2007

Practice areas

Public Access : Yes


  • LLB (Hons) (GDL + BVC), 2:1, University of Law
  • MA in English Before 1525, King’s College London
  • BA (Hons) English, First Class, University College London


Rudolph practises in immigration law, focussing mainly on asylum and human rights.

Rudolph started law-school at the age of 41 and re-trained as a barrister, since when he has practised in immigration law, focussing mainly on asylum and human rights at 10 King’s Bench Walk in London. He is a regular fixture in the First-tier and Upper Tribunals in both appeals and judicial review applications.  He appeared in the current country guidance cases on the persecution risks for Iranian Kurds (HB (Kurds) Iran CG [2018] UKUT 00430 (IAC)) and returnees to post-civil war Sri Lanka (GJ and Others (post-civil war: returnees) Sri Lanka CG [2013] UKUT 00319 (IAC)).  Before coming to the Bar, he had a varied work history as a freelance lexicographer, research assistant on the Survey of English Usage at University College London (1989-90), Teacher of English and the methodology of teaching in China (1991-1994), and a local government officer at the London Boroughs of Camden (1995-6) and Hammersmith & Fulham (1996-2005).

As a law student, he volunteered for Bail for Immigration Detainees and undertook pro bono work at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.


Rudolph is an experienced immigration practitioner, who has represented appellants from dozens of countries in asylum and immigration appeals of all kinds. He has particular experience of representing claimants for political asylum from Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka and has also enjoyed success in numerous cases relying on ECHR Article 8 and the best interests of children and in representing claims for asylum based on sexuality and on the risks to trafficked women.  Cases of interest include the current Country Guidance cases on the risks to Iranian Kurds and Sri Lankans affected by the civil war in that country.


  • Human Rights Lawyers’ Association
  • Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association


  • French (basic/intermediate)
  • Mandarin Chinese (basic/intermediate)


Rudolph lives in Tooting with his wife, who works in charity communications,  a son of secondary school age, a daughter of primary school age, lots of books and several guitars. He has travelled in about 30 countries and lived on 3 continents.

Related cases

  • HB (Kurds) Iran CG [2018] UKUT 00430 (IAC): Rudolph was led by Sonali Naik QC in the current country guidance case on persecution claims relating to Iranian Kurds. The case was listed for country guidance after Rudolph persuaded the Upper Tribunal that the previous Iranian country guidance case of SSH and HR (illegal exit: failed asylum seeker) Iran CG [2016] UKUT 308 (IAC) did not give guidance on the risks associated with Kurdish ethnicity.
  • ML (Albania) [2018] UKFTT (ureported): The appellant had been forced into the sex trade by a former boyfriend. Her trafficking claim had been referred to the National Referral Mechanism but rejected.  The FTT accepted that, on the evidence, she had been trafficked and would not be able to live in Albania again without facing undue harshness.
  • TK (Sierra Leone) v SSHD (2017) UKFTT (unreported): The appellant had end-state kidney disease. Appeal allowed due to the practical unavailability of dialysis, making return a death sentence.
  • AD (South Sudan) v SSHD (2017) UKFTT (unreported): The appellant fled persecution in Sudan resulting from his perceived South Sudanese ethnicity (although his own family had lived in Khartoum for several generations, his tribe’s homeland is in South Sudan, which would have entitled him to nationality there). Appeal allowed against the Secretary of State’s assertion that he could live safely in South Sudan, a country which he had never visited and which was in the throes of famine and civil war.
  • R on the application of MH (Albania) v SSHD(2016) EWHC (unreported): Judicial Review permission granted; settled by consent.  Successful challenge to a decision that the appellant’s account of risk arising from a blood-feud was clearly unfounded.
  • R on the application of RS (India) v SSHD(2015 and 2017) UKUT: Two unreported permission hearings for successive judicial reviews of successive refusals of the same application, both granted by the Upper Tribunal and both subsequently settled by consent.  The first related to procedural unfairness in failing to put relevant allegations to the claimant before alleging dishonesty against him; the second related to the Secretary of State’s misrepresentation of the contents of a Document Verification Report and the failure to understand the nature and function of payslips.
  • MP (Sri Lanka) and NT (Sri Lanka) v SSHD[2014] EWCA Civ 829: Rudolph was led by Raza Hussain QC for the second appellant, NT, in an appeal against GJ and Others (post-civil war: returnees) Sri Lanka CG.  He argued NT’s personal appeal, which was allowed and remitted to the Upper Tribunal.
  • GJ and Others (post-civil war: returnees) Sri Lanka CG[2013] UKUT 00319 (IAC): The current country guidance case on claims arising out of the Sri Lankan Civil War, in which Rudolph was leading counsel for the second appellant, NT.
  • R on the application of Atif (Pakistan) and Others v SSHD(2013) EWHC (unreported): Judicial Review permission granted; settled by consent. Rudolph represented the claimants, whose applications had been refused by the Secretary of State in reliance upon Appendix FM criteria arguably excluded by her own Statement of Changes. The Secretary of State later resisted a similar argument unsuccessfully in Edgehill & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 402.
  • R on the application of FK (Rwanda) v SSHD(2013): Rudolph represented FK, whom the Secretary of State sought to return to Belgium under the Dublin II Regulations. He challenged the decision in light of evidence showing that the claimant had been trafficked but had not been referred to the Competent Authority. The case was settled by consent pre-permission stage.
  • R on the application of MAM (Somalia) v SSHD(2011): Rudolph represented the claimant, who was a long-term absconder after having become appeal rights exhausted following an unsuccessful asylum claim. Over the next several years, 12 members of his family (including his 4 children) came to the UK and were granted asylum or family reunion. The claimant made a further attempt to claim asylum in Sweden but was returned to the UK under the Dublin II Regulations, where his claim was certified. Rudolph challenged the certification in reliance upon the evidence of the claimant’s family’s cases and the continuing risk in Somalia. The case was settled by consent pre-permission stage.
  • JMA (Somalia) v SSHDDA/00644/2013 (2013) (unreported): Rudolph acted for the appellant in his successful appeal to the Upper Tribunal before a panel chaired by the Chamber President. The President found that JMA had been deprived of a fair hearing before the First-tier Tribunal because it had proceeded in his absence in spite of challenges to his credibility and that the Tribunal had failed to assess his case properly in light of the relevant country guidance case law. Rudolph later obtained JMA’s release from detention on bail without sureties after 26 months’ immigration detention.

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Rudolph Spurling

Rudolph Spurling
10 King's Bench Walk
London EC4Y 7EB
(t) +44 (0)20 7353 7742
(f) +44 (0)20 7583 0579
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