Schona Jolly QC
Year of Silk/Call: 2017/1999
Commercial Law | Discrimination & Equality | Employment | Human Rights | Regulatory | Sport & Entertainment
"Talented employment and discrimination lawyer who is widely admired for her fierce advocacy and her ability to think quickly on her feet." Chambers & Partners 2017. "A rare talent who approaches every challenge with an open mind." "Creative and unafraid to use innovative arguments." Legal 500 2019
She also practices in public, sports, commercial and education law, particularly where they intersect with her principal practice areas. Recent examples of her work include the intersection of equality law with AI/tech, charity, housing or sports law.
Schona is Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee and Head of Cloisters Human Rights Practice Group
Schona is described as “fearless” in the legal directories, and recommended as “a highly skilled and very pragmatic advocate who is excellent with clients. Schona has an amazing brain and is the best cross-examiner we have seen”. “The go-to person in difficult discrimination cases”.
Widely sought-after for her strategic advice on litigation, policy and campaigns in the UK and abroad, particularly in connection with equality and human rights issues, she advises high profile organisations, including international NGOS, and national bodies across governance, politics, media and the entertainment industry.
She is acting for Shahmir Sanni, the Vote Leave Whistleblower, represented Deliveroo riders in mass litigation on employment status which resulted in a well-publicised settlement, successfully acted for Protect in Osipov (CA) and is acting in other high value breach of contract claims, complex discrimination and harassment work, trafficking, genocide in Myanmar, and FGM work, including submitting an amicus brief with Equality Now in US v Dr Nagarwala on FGM's international human rights and equality implications.
She acts for a wide range of Claimants and Defendants/Respondents (including in complex multiple claims) and has been a longstanding Panel Counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and their predecessor organisations.
She is also a regular speaker on her specialist areas, including on Brexit-related matters, and she writes widely in the national media, as well as specialist press. She is an accredited mediator. She has recently returned from Turkey where she is monitoring trials of journalists and lawyers. She is multilingual.
Legal 500 2019: "A rare talent who approaches every challenge with an open mind." "Creative and unafraid to use innovative arguments."
Chambers 2017: "She is a fighter, collaborative and takes on board your input." "She is fantastic in cross-examination, really gets to the point of any legal dispute and is very sensible to deal with."‘ "A highly skilled and very pragmatic advocate who is excellent with clients. Schona has an amazing brain and is the best cross-examiner we have seen." "The go-to person in difficult discrimination cases."
Legal 500 2016: "Immediately sets her clients at ease" Creative and unafraid to use innovative arguments.' and 'confident, informed and dedicated to her work'. Her cross-examination is exemplary; she tailors her style to suit the witness and to get the best out of them.'
Legal 500 2015: ‘She has an impressive international human rights practice.'
Chambers 2016: "Much sought after...She combines a sharp mind with a commercial focus; she is excellent with witnesses.." "She is very committed and incredibly responsive; she's great if you've got a fight on your hands"
Chambers 2015: "A very strong litigator and advocate, she is not intimidated by the other side." "Excellent on high-profile cases, she is really bright and good with clients." "We go to her for difficult cases, as she is very commercial and legally excellent. She is always willing to take on difficult cases."
Chambers 2014: "Noted for her appearance in high-profile discrimination cases, there is a strong human rights element to Jolly's practice...She's a robust litigator and handles the most awkward opponents calmly."
Chambers 2013: "impressed sources with her skilful drafting"
Chambers 2012: "incredibly attentive and really fights for her clients." She is also commended for her extensive discrimination practice and her commercial outlook.
Chambers 2011: "does some interesting work that crosses over into the human rights sphere. An expert on equality issues, she recently wrote a book on age discrimination and is described as being "first-class with clients and excellent on the law."
Leading Junior - Legal 500
Appointments and memberships
Head of Cloisters Human Rights group
Council of JUSTICE 2014-2016
IBA, IBAHRI, Discrimination Law Association, Employment Law Association, ELBA, JUSTICE, Lawyers for Liberty, Amnesty International, Advocates 4 International Development
Publications and training
Contributing author to Sweet & Maxwell, 'Human Rights Practice', next ed due 2019, on Article 9.
Contributor to 'Discrimination in Employment: A Claims Handbook', LAG, 2013.
Co-author: Age Discrimination Handbook, LAG 2006 with Declan O'Dempsey and Andrew Harrop.
2004 co-author Consultation paper for Age Concern: Addressing Age Barriers: An international comparison of legislation against age discrimination in the field of goods, facilities and services.
She frequently writes articles for professional publications, including European Human Rights Law Review and newspapers.
She was a former associate editor of the European Human Rights Reports.
BA Jurisprudence, Magdalen College, Oxford
Schona is legally fluent in French and also speaks high-level Spanish, Hindi and Punjabi as well as basic Arabic and Greek.
• Successfully acted for the Claimants in Smailes v Clewer Court Residents Ltd (Cardiff county court) on reasonable adjustments/disability discrimination in housing law.
• Successful CA intervention for Protect in (1) Timis (2) Sage v Osipov  EWCA Civ 2321 (whistleblowing)
• Represented Deliveroo riders in their worker status claims resulting in settlement July 2018
• Bou Simon v BGC Brokers LLP  EWCA 1525 (Civ) (implied terms, breach of contract)
• Shahmir Sanni v TaxPayers Alliance, ET - successfully represented Vote Leave whistleblower
• US v Dr Nagarwala - amicus brief in US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
• Moyer Lee and others v Cofely Workplace Ltd UKEAT/0058/15 (meaning of "undertaking" in ICE Regulations/Directive)
• X v Governing Body of a School (2015) UKUT 0007 (AAC) (education/equality)
• Carol Howard v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis London Central Employment Tribunal, 30 June 2014, 1st September 2014 (discrimination/employment)
• Kemeh v MOD  EWCA Civ 91 (agency, discrimination, employment)
• Jivraj v Hashwani  UKSC 40, Supreme Court (status of arbitrators, discrimination, human rights, commercial)
• Bikramjit Singh v France (2012) UN Human Rights Committee (international human rights (and in an application to Strasbourg)