‘The winner of this next Attitude award is a radiant example of the best of humanity. His work has helped change the way LGBT+ people’s asylum cases are assessed in the Home Office – got to the core of this matter. His work has even been noted by the United Nations.’ (Naga Munchetty, BBC Breakfast, introducing S Chelvan’s Attitude Magazine Pride Award 2018, 6 July 2018.
International Human Rights
Symbiotic relationship between litigation, policy and academic research.
Dr Chelvan has an international reputation as an expert in the field of international human rights, built upon two decades of strong and effective litigation, policy and academic work in the field. He was awarded a Summer 2000 Visiting Research Fellowship by the Centre for International Human Rights Law by Northwestern University in Chicago. Aa a recipient of a Kennedy Memorial Trust Scholarship in 2000, Chelvan was awarded his LLM at Harvard Law School in 2001 where he specialised in international human rights. Whilst at Harvard he was an Executive Editor of the Harvard Human Rights Law Journal and an Article Consultant to the Harvard International Law Journal.
In December 2018, he successfully passed his PhD in Law viva (with corrections to be filed) at King’s College London. His thesis, ‘At the End of the Rainbow: Where next for the Queer Refugee?’ addresses the case law development in England and Wales relating to protection and human rights claims based on sexual identity. The main body of the case law development includes cases Chelvan has been instructed on.
He is regularly consulted by national and international governments and bodies with respect to international human rights and provides training and advice with respect to both cases and policy development.
Please cross-reference Immigration CV for detailed background.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Chelvan was the only UK domiciled candidate shortlisted for the role UN Independent Expert for SOGI discrimination and violence in November 2017. He is fully aware of the UN standards and Sustainable Development Goals. He is also a Stonewall Ambassador and in December 2018 was named a Stonewall Workplace Role Model. Chelvan has served on the Bar Council Equality and Diversity and Social Mobility Committee since 2008.
Recent and/or Current High Profile Cases of Interest:
UK Supreme Court
O’Connor v Bar Standards Board  UKSC 78,  1 WLR 4833
Led by Mark Anderson QC for the successful appellant - (neither appearing below) successfully argued before the Supreme Court that the acts complained of (the disciplinary proceedings instigated by the BSB) was in fact a single, continuous course of conduct: ‘the initiation and pursuit of the proceedings to their conclusion i.e. the entirety of the course of conduct as opposed to any component steps. On this limitation period had not expired when proceedings were commenced by the Appellant.
European Court of Human Rights:
- M.E. v SWEDEN, Application no. 71398/12 (European Court of Human Rights) (written comments dated 9 April 2013 and December 2013) (Judgment of Court on 26th June 2014. Further written comments for appeal to Grand Chamber submitted on 23 January 2015 – case struck out on 8 April 2015 due to Swedish grant of refugee status in December 2014) - Instructed by FIDH (Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme), ICJ (International Commission of Jurists) and ILGA-Europe (European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association). Case of gay man from Libya challenging expulsion from Sweden. First case to substantively address risk to gay applicants since earlier 2004 Strasbourg decisions - “Article 3 of the Convention does not permit a Council of Europe member state to expel (even temporarily) a gay man who is genuinely married to a man, or a lesbian who is genuinely married to a woman, if the expelled individual would face a real risk of treatment violating Article 3 in their country of origin if they were to speak publicly (or otherwise be open) about their sexual orientation and their same-sex marriage. The genuineness of the marriage can be determined in the Council of Europe member state, without expelling the individual to their country of origin” [Section 26 of written comments]. Proceedings before the Grand Chamber struck out following positive grant of refugee status by Sweden on 8 April 2015.
ME v Sweden – intervention http://www.no5.com/cms/documents/FIDH-ICJ ILGA%20Europe%20intervention%20-%20ME%20v%20Sweden%20-%20App%20no%2071398%20-%2012%20-%209th%20April%202013.pdf
- A.E v Finland (App.no 30953/11) (Instructed as sole Counsel by ECRE, FHRL, FIDH, ILGA-Europe) co-ordinated joint submissions with AIRE Centre/INTERIGHTS/UKLGIG (written comments submitted on 19 March 2014, proceedings struck out on the 22nd of September 2015 following positive grant of refugee status by Finland.”
AE v Finland – intervention http://www.no5.com/cms/documents/AE%20v%20Finland%2017-3-14.pdf
Giuliana Kendal v Linda Bellos and Venice Allan (Wimbledon Magistrate’s Court July 2018) Leading Chris Snell via the Public Access Scheme, successfully obtained summons issued against Bellos and Allan relating to a broadcast in November 2017 of a panel discussion relating to Gender Recognition Act reforms. Charges related to Public Order and Communications Act allegations.
Penny Norma Davies v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (CSP 503/07) (Social Security Commissioners) (March 2008) - striking down of non-retrospective section of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 as being incompatible with the European Social Security Equal Treatment Directive (79/7/EEC) as it did not provide payment of pension for trans women who turned 60 prior to April 2005 - instructed by Herbert Smith LLP on a pro-bono basis through Law Works - legal teams short-listed for team award for Law Works Awards 2008 and ranked in the Standout category in Dispute Resolution for the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers 2008).
Surrogacy and Identity
R (H) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – Surrogacy and Birth Certificate test case – Substantive hearing on 21 March 2019.
In a decision dated 20 December 2018 Pepperall J granted permission to the claimant (‘H’), a minor to apply for a judicial review of the SSHSC’s defence of the lawfulness of sections 35 and 38 of the HFEA 2008. The impugned sections provide that the husband of a surrogate mother is to be treated as ‘the father’ of the resulting child unless it is shown that he did not consent to the placing in the surrogate mother of the embryo or the sperm and eggs or to her artificial insemination (as the case may be).H, who was born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement governed by the HFEA 2008, seeks a declaration that sections 35 and 38 of the HFEA 2008 to the extent that they prevent her biological father from being recorded as her father on her birth certificate and treated as her legal father infringe her rights under articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. H also seeks a declaration of incompatibility under section 4 Human Rights Act 1998.
“A very knowledgeable and passionate lawyer who will give you a straight answer, and who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s quite a force in this area.” “He is a master of his subject. He makes powerful and creative submissions and his advocacy skills are very impressive and persuasive.”
Chambers UK 2020
“His expertise in sexual identity-related asylum claims is world-renowned.”
Legal 500 2020
One of the UK’s foremost LGBTI rights activists, acting on behalf of those fleeing persecution on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. “He has majorly contributed to the big change in the attitude of the tribunals to LGBTI cases” “He excels in High Court work, he is very passionate …”
“Very intelligent, hard-working, and imaginative in his approach to cases” (2015) “He has great client skills, as well as court skills. He is a very eloquent speaker and is very watchable in court.” “He has probably become the leading practitioner in the UK for political asylum claims on sexuality” (2014) “The ’very impressive’ S Chelvan of the same set is praised for his academic appreciation of the underpinnings of human rights law and his ground-breaking work on asylum claims based on gender or sexual identity” (2013, Immigration, Band 2). Chelvan’s “strong advocacy and dedication to clients.” He is known as a doyen of immigration cases involving issues of sexual identity. (2012). [A]t the forefront of ground-breaking cases in the area. Sources say that he is “extremely committed” and “a particularly effective advocate.” (2011). Chelvan has “immense expertise” and, “the very welcome knack of putting vulnerable clients at ease.” (2010). “You can rely on him to work exceptionally hard and more importantly, highly effectively.” (2009). “Lawyers agree that he is ’leading the way’ in relation to [sexual orientation and gender identity] claims in this area (2008). Chelvan is referred to as having an “expansive knowledge of the law” and being “an extremely principled man”, who “always demands and strives for the highest standards of fairness and goes that extra mile for the client” (2007).
Chambers UK, 2016, Immigration, Band 2
“An unsurpassed reputation for work with LGBT clients” (2015)
“Committed to forwarding the rights of migrants.” (2014). S. Chelvan is a “tenacious battler who fights with vigour and commitment” (2010). Chelvan “is renowned for his expertise in gender identity and sexual orientation cases” (2009/10). S. Chelvan’s (with others) record cases with a strong human rights element (2007/08), his “immigration experience” in successful “sexual and gender identity” claims (2008/09)
Government Equality Offices LGBT Advisory Panel (Since March 2019);
Director (2016-March 2019) and Equality and Diversity and Diversity Data Officer (appointed) ( February 2016 – 31 October 2018)– No5 Barristers’ Chambers;
Trustee, FREEBAR (since February 2017);
Reviewer (Immigration), ADVOCATE (formerly Bar Pro Bono Unit) (since 2017) Panel member since 2004;
Committee member of the Equality Diversity and Social Mobility Committee (since 2008);
International Rights Officer – UK Black Pride (since March 2018);
Trustee, EQUAL GROUND (since September 2018);
Home Office, Equality sub-group, National Asylum Stakeholders Forum (since 2015); and
Home Office, LGBT Training Committee, Founding member (since 2014).