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Graham Denholm

Call: 2001
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Practice Summary

Graham is recognised as a leading junior barrister in immigration, civil liberties and human rights, and public and administrative law. He appears regularly in the Administrative Court, the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court, and the Court of Appeal, and has conducted numerous cases before the First-tier and Upper Tribunals.


Graham is ranked in Band 1 for immigration in Chambers and Partners, which refers to his “notable expertise in asylum and deportation matters.” His practice in this area extends from personal and business immigration, including EU free movement law, to complex asylum, human rights, and deportation cases. He has extensive experience of human rights cases involving children. He has a particular interest in the impact of Brexit on EU nationals in the UK and on those employing EU nationals. He is well-known for his work challenging immigration detention and is regularly instructed in detention challenges in the Administrative Court, the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court and the County Court. He is the co-author of the leading textbook on the topic: Detention under the Immigration Acts: Law and Practice (OUP, 2015).

Public Law and human rights

Graham is ranked as a leading junior in Administrative and Public Law in Chambers and Partners (Band 4) and in both directories for Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Band / Tier 3). He is described as “always careful and thorough… lovely with very vulnerable clients… extremely approachable and unflappable.” He appears in in the specialist Tribunals and the Administrative Court and welcomes instructions across the range of Chambers’ public law and human rights work as sole counsel or as part of a team. Areas of experience include education (student funding, special educational needs), social care, social security, housing, and age dispute challenges.

General Civil Law

Graham is an experienced trial lawyer with an excellent knowledge of civil procedure and strong tactical judgement. He is an effective and focussed cross-examiner. His civil work in recent years has focussed on false imprisonment claims against the Home Office (some of which have included claims for damages for personal injury). His broader experience of civil practice includes personal injury work, landlord and tenant, and litigation relating to art and antiquities. He has an interest in Alternative Dispute Resolution and is in the process of becoming an accredited mediator.

Direct Access

Graham is accredited by the Bar Council for Direct Access, which means that, in appropriate cases, he is able to accept instructions directly from members of the public and businesses for the provision of advisory and advocacy services.

Additional Information

Graham sits on the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee. He is a member of the Administrative Law Bar Association and the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association. He trains regularly in his areas of specialism and is happy to discuss the provision of bespoke in-house training.


Graham holds an MA (Hons) (first class) in English from Glasgow University and an M.Phil in American literature from Cambridge University. He undertook the PGDL and BVC at Nottingham Law School.


Chambers UK Bar 2020 recommends Graham as a leading junior in three areas: Immigration (Band 1), Civil Liberties & Human Rights (Band 3) and Administrative & Public Law (Band 4):

Immigration: Experienced barrister with notable expertise in asylum and deportation matters. He is a recognised immigration detention expert who is routinely called upon to act for clients in judicial review proceedings against the Home Office, including in cases that reach the Court of Appeal.

“Absolutely brilliant, a meticulous practitioner. His knowledge base is second to none and I will often call him when I have a difficult case because he has such strong expertise.” “He is easy to work with, responsive, knowledgeable and thorough. Someone to rely on when dealing with a legally complex case, and an excellent advocate.”

Civil Liberties & Human Rights: Particularly well known for his sterling work in the field of immigration, he routinely undertakes complex deportation and asylum cases, and has specialist expertise in immigration detention. He frequently brings civil actions and judicial reviews against the Home Office, often involving complex false imprisonment claims.

“Level-headed, careful and thorough; he’s one of the most knowledgeable counsel around in respect of immigration detention, particularly around foreign international offenders.” “Graham is fantastic. He wrote the practitioners’ textbook on immigration detention and there’s very little he doesn’t know about the field.”

Administrative & Public Law: Chiefly counsels claimants in judicial reviews challenging decisions of the Home Secretary. He is well versed in cases concerning immigration detention, age assessments and asylum appeals. 

“I ask for him on detention judicial review as he wrote the textbook, has knowledge of the law and procedure and keeps a cool head at trial.” “He’s clever, hard-working, does what he says he will and is really nice with clients.” “He’s always careful and thorough. He’s lovely with very vulnerable clients: extremely approachable and unflappable.”

Legal 500 2020 recommends Graham in Civil Liberties & Human Rights (Band 3) (“Extremely approachable and unflappable.”) and in Immigration (Band 3) (“Consistently excellent and there is nothing which fazes him in court.”).

Recommendations in past years have included the following:

“His advocacy is brilliant…” (Chambers & Partners 2018, Immigration)

“…collaborative, very calm and measured… able to focus on the good points and ditch the bad points.” (Chambers & Partners 2018, Immigration)

“His work is always exceptionally thorough and considered and his advice is very balanced.” (Chambers & Partners 2018, Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

“…extremely professional and efficient, and he combines a really thorough knowledge of the law with procedural insights” (Chambers & Partners 2018, Administrative & Public Law)

“An excellent barrister, whose advocacy, drafting and determination is first class.” (Legal 500 2017, Immigration)

“one of the best claimants’ representatives for immigration detention” (Chambers & Partners, 2017)

“extremely careful and very proper in the way he presents cases” (Chambers & Partners, 2017)

“unrivalled knowledge of the complex legislation, policies and case law in the area of immigration detention” (Chambers & Partners, 2016)

“Peers praise him for his ability to untangle complicated, technical cases… very clever, very thorough and very hard-working” (Chambers & Partners, 2016)

“His strengths are his attention to detail and fantastic advocacy” (Legal 500, 2016)


Detention under the Immigration Acts: Law and Practice, Oxford University Press, 2015, with Rory Dunlop, Consultant editor Lisa Giovannetti QC, Foreword by Lord Dyson MR. In his Foreword Lord Dyson described the work as “an essential addition to the library of anyone who practises in the field of the law of immigration”. It was reviewed on the influential Free Movement blog here.


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