Susan ChanSusan Chan


Susan Chan is a barrister of 22 years’ experience who practises in public law, immigration, employment law and personal injury, including inquests. She studied law as an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, where she was appointed a scholar. She undertook her Bar training in 1993-1994 and was called to the Bar in 1994. She was awarded a Prince of Wales scholarship by Gray’s Inn. She joined 13 Kings’ Bench Walk chambers in London in 1994 as a pupil and was there until 2014, when the chambers merged with her current chambers, 42 Bedford Row. In 1999 Susan was appointed to the Attorney-General’s panel of counsel which represents and advises central government and remained on that panel for 16 years. She regularly trains pupil and new barristers in advocacy and ethics. She also gives frequent talks on interesting legal developments in her specialist areas. Susan assists appellants in the Employment Appeal Tribunal through the charity ELAAS.

Susan has been involved in some of the leading cases on children’s interests in the immigration context, including acting for the Home Secretary in the landmark Supreme Court case of ZH Tanzania [2011] 2 WLR 148 . This established that in all immigration decisions the Home Secretary must treat any affected children’s best interests as a primary consideration. She has also successfully defended the Home Secretary at the Supreme Court where the issue was whether the detention of a minor who had been reasonably, but wrongly, age-assessed as an adult was unlawful: AA Afghanistan [2013] 1 WLR 2224.

Another key area in which Susan has been involved is in the exploration of when a grant of citizenship can be treated as a nullity with retrospective effect. Susan acted in the lead case on this Kaziu [2015] 1 WLR 945 which established that when a person fraudulently adopted characteristics of identity which had been central to their acquiring British citizenship, even if they had used their real name, the Home Secretary was entitled to treat citizenship as a nullity with immediate, retrospective effect.

Susan has also acted in many cases in the area of education; perhaps the most high-profile of these being when the government revoked London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor international foreign students in 2012 (London Metropolitan University v Home Secretary). The University’s judicial review challenge to the revocation was subsequently withdrawn.

Employment, particularly discrimination law, is a particular area of expertise and interest for Susan. Most recently her expertise in employment and public law were utilised when she represented the Lord Chancellor in two consecutive challenges brought by Unison against the legality of the Employment Tribunal fees scheme Unison and EHRC v Lord Chancellor (nos 1) [2014] ICR 398 and no 2 [2015] ICR 490. The union alleged that tribunal fees were contrary to the EU principles of effectiveness and equivalence: an argument that EU rights must not be impossible in practice to enforce, or harder to enforce than non-EU rights. It was also claimed that imposing fees breached the public sector equality duty and were indirectly discriminatory to women. The union’s claims were dismissed by the High Court and Court of Appeal; an appeal remains pending to the Supreme Court.