Robin Tam KC

Year of Call: 1986 / Year of Silk: 2006

Practice Areas

Robin Tam KC

Year of Call: 1986 / Year of Silk: 2006

Practice Areas


Robin Tam has a general common law practice which has become particularly specialised in the fields of judicial review and administrative law, especially in immigration and asylum and in the interface between public law and private law. Before taking silk in 2006, he had been on the panels of Junior Counsel to the Crown since 1994, including the A Panel.

Human rights have long been an important feature of his cases, particularly since the inception of the Human Rights Act. More recently, he has been prominently involved in litigation relating to control orders, “deportation with assurances” and the detention and deportation of foreign national offenders. These areas of work lead to him being routinely briefed to appear in the higher courts, including regular appearances in the Supreme Court. He has extensive experience of closed material procedures. His familiarity with the handling of sensitive information within litigation, and with the demands of both government departments and courts in that context, has also been deployed in other contexts, including high-profile inquests and inquiries.


“A safe, steady pair of hands. Calm and impartial”
“A gentle style which belies a sharp advocate.  The way he present points is brilliant.  He never gets rattled under pressure”
“very thorough, knowledgeable and an effective player”
“a very solid advocate”
“his manner with witnesses is very good and he’s a very deep thinker who understands strategy”
“He is extremely fair and sure-footed in court”
Chambers and Partners

“an excellent reputation in immigration and civil liberties judicial reviews”
“a brilliant advocate”
“strong experience in human rights related cases”
Legal 500

Professional Memberships

Administrative Law Bar Association
Personal Injuries Bar Association

R (C1) v Home Secretary [2022] EWCA Civ 30

The Secretary of State cancelled C1’s indefinite leave to remain after he had departed the United Kingdom, using the power in Article 13(7) of the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000, which provides for leave that does not lapse on departure. C1 argued that that power allows only the cancellation of limited leave and does not extend to indefinite leave. The Court of Appeal rejected that argument.

Kaitey v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 1875

Robin Tam QC and Emily Wilsdon appeared for the Home Secretary when successfully resisting an appeal, potentially affecting a large number of people, about whether the Secretary of State has the power to place a person on bail under para. 1(2) of Sch. 10 to the Immigration Act 2016 in circumstances in which it would be unlawful actually to exercise a power to detain them.

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R (TN (Vietnam)) v Home Secretary [2021] UKSC 41

The Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal decision that an asylum appeal determination is not automatically a nullity even if the applicable fast-track procedure was systemically flawed. An unsuccessful asylum appellant must show unfairness in the circumstances of their own case in order to have the determination set aside.

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Costea v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 1685 (Admin)

The Court considered whether a Deportation Liability Notice (DLN) issued by the Secretary of State to an EEA national was a “measure” or a “decision” for the purposes of the Citizens’ Directive.

The Court held that a DLN was a “measure” within the meaning of Article 27 of the Directive. However the Court also held that the DLN was not a “decision” for the purposes of Article 30 of the Directive. Accordingly, there was no requirement from the Directive that the DLN should be communicated in such a way that the subject is able to comprehend its content and the implications for them.

The Claimant’s claim was, accordingly, dismissed.

EOG v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWHC 3310 (Admin)

Challenge to the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s policy regarding grants of leave to remain to potential victims of human trafficking. Robin Tam QC and William Irwin represented the Secretary of State.

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R (on the application of Lupepe) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 2690 (Admin)

Following a three-day hearing in the Administrative Court, Lewis J found that a curfew imposed on a foreign national offender was unlawful as it was imposed pursuant to an unpublished policy about curfews, and because the Claimant was not afforded an opportunity to make representations prior to its imposition. The policy concerned the re-imposition of curfews that had had to be lifted following the Court of Appeal’s decision in R (Gedi) v Home Secretary [2016] EWCA Civ 409, [2016] 4 WLR 93 (in which Robin Tam QC had also represented the Home Secretary).

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R (Iqbal) v Home Secretary [2016] UKSC 63

The appellants, who all had extant leave to remain in the UK, applied in time for further leave to remain. They could have benefited from section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 extending their leave until after their applications had been decided and any time for appealing had passed. The Supreme Court considered how this section operates when the application is procedurally invalid for a reason such as the non-payment of the required fee, or the payment of an insufficient fee, or a failure to comply with a request made during consideration of the application for the applicant to enrol biometric information.

NA (Pakistan) v Home Secretary [2016] EWCA Civ 662, [2017] 1 WLR 207

The claimants were all foreign criminals whose deportation was generally required by section 32 of the UK Borders Act 2007. The Court of Appeal considered the way in which the Immigration Rules in force before 28 July 2014 should be applied, and also the Immigration Rules in force from that date taken together with the new Part 5A of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (inserted by the Immigration Act 2014).

R (O) v Home Secretary [2016] UKSC 19, [2016] 1 WLR 1717

The appellant claimed that she had been unlawfully detained pending her deportation. A new medical report advancing a new diagnosis of her condition was submitted to the Home Secretary but was not properly dealt with. However, on judicial review she would at most receive only nominal damages. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal that in those circumstances, it was right to refuse her permission to apply for judicial review.

R (Gedi) v Home Secretary [2016] EWCA Civ 409, [2016] 4 WLR 93

The Home Secretary wished to deport the appellant following the end of his criminal sentence. In the interim, she imposed restrictions on him under paragraph 2(5) of Schedule 3 to the Immigration Act 1971, including a curfew. Did that power allow the Home Secretary to impose a curfew?

B (Algeria) v Home Secretary (No 2) [2015] EWCA Civ 445, [2016] QB 789

The appellant had been granted bail during deportation proceedings, which had become so protracted (because of his own refusal to identify himself) that it would no longer have been lawful to detain him because of the limitation imposed by the case of Hardial Singh. Did this mean that there was no longer any power to grant bail?

The Litvinenko Inquiry

Inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who died from Polonium poisoning in 2006.

Pham v Home Secretary [2015] UKSC 19, [2015] 1 WLR 1591

The Home Secretary deprived the appellant of his British citizenship, but the Vietnamese government – not acting in accordance with Vietnamese law – declined to accept that he was a Vietnamese national. Did this mean that he had been made stateless by the deprivation?

R (Francis) v Home Secretary [2014] EWCA Civ 718, [2015] 1 WLR 567

The Appellant was detained for deportation after a criminal court recommended that he be deported. Subsequent administrative detention reviews were legally flawed.

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R (George) v Home Secretary [2014] UKSC 28, [2014] 1 WLR 1831

The Home Secretary signed a deportation order against the appellant, invalidating his previous leave to remain in the United Kingdom. He won his statutory appeal, and the Home Secretary later revoked the deportation order. Did that mean that his previous leave to remain automatically revived?

R (Elosta) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2013] EWHC 3397 (Admin), [2014] 1 WLR 239

The claimant was stopped at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 and was allowed to telephone his solicitor. But the police officers would not wait for his solicitor to arrive at the airport before beginning to question him. It would be a criminal offence for him to refuse to answer those questions. Did the officers have the power to question him after the presence of the solicitor had been requested and before his arrival?

R (AA (Afghanistan)) v Home Secretary [2013] UKSC 49, [2013] 1 WLR 2224

The appellant claimed to be a child, but a local authority assessed him to be an adult. The Home Secretary acted on the basis of that assessment and detained him for removal. Later, a different local authority assessed him to be a child. Had the Home Secretary’s duty under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 regarding the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children been breached when he was detained, so as to make his detention unlawful?

Bank Mellat v HM Treasury (No 2) [2013] UKSC 38, [2013] UKSC 39, [2014] AC 700

A financial sanctions measure against the appellant bank was examined by the High Court using procedures including a closed material procedure. When the appeal from that decision reached the Supreme Court, did the Supreme Court have the power to sit in closed session to examine the closed judgment and closed evidence?

B (Algeria) v Home Secretary [2013] UKSC 4, [2013] 1 WLR 435

The appellant was being deported on national security grounds, but (in defiance of an order of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission) had persistently refused to disclose his true identity, thwarting the Commission’s ability to properly determine his appeal. He was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, which was upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal. Was the Court of Appeal’s approach to that appeal erroneous?

R (BB (Algeria)) v SIAC (No 2) [2012] EWCA Civ 1499, [2013] 1 WLR 1568

The appellant was being deported on national security grounds but was granted bail subject to a curfew. The national security case against him had not been disclosed to him, even by way of a gist. Was he entitled to such disclosure under Article 6 of the ECHR?

XX (Ethiopia) v Home Secretary [2012] EWCA Civ 742, [2013] QB 656

The appellant was being deported on national security grounds, but his appeal was dismissed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. Should SIAC have excluded any evidence which may have resulted from the alleged attendance by Security Service officers at secret detention facilities abroad?

Home Secretary v CB [2012] EWCA Civ 418, [2012] 1 WLR 3259

The Home Secretary made control orders against two Pakistani nationals. One voluntarily returned to Pakistan and the other was extradited to the United States. The control orders ceased to have practical effect and the High Court accordingly stayed the control order proceedings. Was the court entitled to do that when neither individual had exercised their right under the statute to request the discontinuance of the proceedings?

IR (Sri Lanka) v Home Secretary [2011] EWCA Civ 704, [2012] 1 WLR 232

The appellants had either been excluded or were being deported from the United Kingdom. They appealed to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which adopted a closed material procedure in hearing their cases. Did the procedure breach their rights under Article 8 of the ECHR?

National Security Law textbook

18th March 2021

A practitioners’ textbook which provides detailed coverage of UK national security law in one place for the first time. The book explains the concept of national security, the respective constitutional functions of the various branches of government, and the law relating to the security and intelligence agencies. It describes executive measures that are deployed to disrupt threats to national security and civil proceedings concerning them. It also deals with the criminal law, and the other contexts in which national security issues can arise. It will be an invaluable guide to anyone instructed in cases in which national security issues are involved.

Asylum and Human Rights Appeals Handbook

1st March 2008

Court of Appeal decision on immigration bail

10th December 2021

Robin Tam QC and Emily Wilsdon appeared for the Home Secretary when successfully resisting an appeal, potentially affecting a large number of people, about whether the Secretary of State has the power to place a person on bail under para. 1(2) of Sch. 10 to the Immigration Act 2016 in circumstances in which it would be unlawful actually to exercise a power to detain them.

Read more

Supreme Court decision on fast-track asylum appeals

24th September 2021

Robin Tam QC appeared with Natasha Barnes on behalf of the Home Secretary in R (TN (Vietnam)) v Home Secretary [2021] UKSC 41, successfully resisting an appeal in which the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal decision that an asylum appeal determination is not automatically a nullity even if the applicable fast-track procedure was systemically flawed. An unsuccessful asylum appellant must show unfairness in the circumstances of their own case in order to have the determination set aside. The claimant could not show unfairness, so the Supreme Court confirmed that her claim concerning the appeal determination failed.

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