Kent students triumph at The Lawyer Awards 2014

The University of Kent’s law clinic won the ’Ethical Initiative of the Year’ category at The Lawyer Awards 2014, for their work on a groundbreaking asylum case.

The awards, organised by Lawyer 2B’s parent publication The Lawyer, were hosted by Joanna Lumley at a glittering ceremony in Grovesnor House Hotel on Park Lane.

Kent Law Clinic won the Ethical Initiative category for its widely-reported work securing British asylum for an Afghan citizen on grounds of atheism.

Second-year law student Claire Splawn, together with clinic supervisor Sheona York, prepared a 12-page submission arguing that the man had a well-founded reason for fearing religious persecution in his home country. The Home Office accepted his claim for asylum in January 2014. 

Importantly, the case sets an effective precedent for those worried about returning to strict Islamic countries as atheists. Their fear may now constitute a claim of asylum, meaning that it would remain within the scope of legal aid.

Debevoise & Plimpton took second place for their work towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality in countries around the world, notably Belize and Singapore, which has involved 1,700 hours of work from lawyers and support staff in 2014. 

Third place went to Sidley Austin for its work with African and Asian businesses in various stages of the agricultural supply chain. Nearly 200 lawyers worked for 50 clients on the project, which makes legal services available for those that do not have the funds to access international legal advice on a commercial scale. Sidley went straight to the source in this scheme, connecting with farmers, local businesses and NGOs, rather than providing assistance to Western governments and organisations.

Among the other winners on the night were RPC, which took the Law Firm of the Year crown, Jones Day, which won International Firm of the Year, and No5 Chambers, which won Chambers of the Year.

A full list of winners can be found here

Lawyer Awards 2014 Ethical Initiative Kent