Schona Jolly QC
Year of Silk/Call: 2017/1999
Arbitration & Mediation | Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning | Commercial Law | Discrimination & Equality | Employment | Human Rights | Professional Discipline | Sport & Entertainment
According to an article in The Lawyer magazine in 2019, Schona Jolly QC was one of “top 10” female silks appearing in the Court of Appeal.
"Schona is very dynamic and proactive." "She is hands down the most committed and passionate lawyer. She is really tenacious, hard-working, and always gives things 110%." Chambers & Partners 2022 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)
"Her equality and human rights background gives her an interesting perspective on cases, and she is diligent, collegiate and really hard working. She gets on top of the intricacies of the law and she is a skilful cross-examiner." "She wins over the tribunal with her style; she gets through what she needs to with a charming approach and she is a fearsome cross-examiner." Chambers & Partners 2022 (Employment)
"Schona is a keen intellect and a practical and yet creative thinker. She is a strong and unwavering advocate with in-depth knowledge and expertise of civil liberties and human rights with the domestic and ECHR frameworks." Legal 500 2022 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)
"Her work rate is phenomenal, but Schona also has a complete mastery of the facts, the industrial context, and the legal issues at play. Her advice is both robust and sensitive, which is a rare combination, and her authority on the legal issues unparalleled." Legal 500 2022 (Employment)
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, and extensive experience on positive action and diversity across sectors.
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 (including e.g. on positive action policies, business and human rights, and the intersection with human rights and environmental law), she advises high profile organisations, including international NGOS, and national bodies across governance, politics, media and the entertainment industry.
She is currently acting for Shahmir Sanni, the Vote Leave Whistleblower, advising Caster Semenya as part of an international legal team challenging IAAF rules, and is instructed by MPs in respect of a potential JR against the Metropolitan Police in connection with referendum expenses. Her present caseload involves high value breach of contract claims, injunctive work complex discrimination and harassment work, strategic advice work, and she is part of an international team intervening for Equality Now in US v Dr Nagarwala on the international human rights and equality implications of FGM.
Recent successes include successfully acting for Protect in Osipov (CA)on whistleblowing and representing Deliveroo riders in mass litigation on employment status which resulted in a well-publicised settlement. She also advised in the Indian case of Sajjan Singh, concerning the Sikh mass pogroms in 1984.
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 available to conduct mediations, including remotely, and to conduct complex investigations. She has recently returned from Turkey where she is monitoring trials of journalists and lawyers, and conducts regular human rights training in projects across the world. She is multilingual.
(Employment) "Her equality and human rights background gives her an interesting perspective on cases, and she is diligent, collegiate and really hard working. She gets on top of the intricacies of the law and she is a skilful cross-examiner." "She wins over the tribunal with her style; she gets through what she needs to with a charming approach and she is a fearsome cross-examiner."
Legal 500 2022: (Civil Liberties and Human Rights) "Schona is a keen intellect and a practical and yet creative thinker. She is a strong and unwavering advocate with in-depth knowledge and expertise of civil liberties and human rights with the domestic and ECHR frameworks."
(Employment) "Her work rate is phenomenal, but Schona also has a complete mastery of the facts, the industrial context, and the legal issues at play. Her advice is both robust and sensitive, which is a rare combination, and her authority on the legal issues unparalleled."
Chambers & Partners 2021: "She has exceptionally good client management skills and draws on her experience with great aplomb." "She is an extraordinary legal brain and strategist who brings passion and diligence to a case." "She's very good at getting to grips with the detail quickly, is superb at cross-examination and her submissions are excellent."
Legal 500 2021: “A deadly cross-examiner, she achieves things other silks simply can't pull off; her advocacy is very convincing and she is able to read the judge perfectly, knowing when to focus on a point and when to move on.” “She is fiercely intelligent and uses her formidable intellect to pursue the best practical outcome for her clients. A creative thinker, she is able to think outside the box to devise avenues of argument to get the best outcome.”
Chambers & Partners 2020: "Her advocacy is extremely good; she really gets involved in the case and has a great interest in the strategy." "A fantastic lawyer and advocate who controls the witness room with warmth, real personality and authority." "Fights for her clients and goes to the ends of the earth for them." "She's very thorough, very collegiate, helpful, easy to work with and very good on her feet. Excellent all round."
Legal 500 2020: "A very impressive silk." "Excellent tactical acumen and highly responsive."
Chambers & Partners 2019: (Employment) "Admired silk whose employment practice is bolstered by her human rights knowledge. She is a regular counsel for banking clients and trade unions, and was recently instructed in one of the leading gig-economy cases in the court system. She also handles complex discrimination claims." "Very good on her feet and excellent with clients." "A really dedicated, committed and hard-working advocate."
(Civil Liberties) "A new silk with notable expertise across human rights matters including discrimination, trafficking and judicial reviews. She has deep experience in international human rights issues and is particularly recognised for her work on the impact of Brexit on human rights and equality law. She also has expertise in how charity, education and employment matters intersect with human rights with human rights law." "She is helpful, comprehensive and pays attention to detail." "She is willing to go the extra mile and has a very good client manner." "She is very impressive and has an encyclopaedic knowledge."
Legal 500 2019: "A rare talent who approaches every challenge with an open mind." "Creative and unafraid to use innovative arguments."
Chambers & Partners 2018: (Civil Liberties) "A new silk with notable expertise across human rights matters including discrimination, trafficking and judicial reviews. She is the Co-Vice Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee and has deep experience in international human rights issues. She is particularly recognised for her work on the impact of Brexit on human rights and equality law." "She is a great advocate in the disability and equality part of the human rights field."
Chambers & Partners 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 & Partners 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 & Partners 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 & Partners 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 & Partners 2013: "Impressed sources with her skilful drafting."
Chambers & Partners 2012: "Incredibly attentive and really fights for her clients." She is also commended for her extensive discrimination practice and her commercial outlook.
Chambers & Partners 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."
Legal 500 - Leading Junior
APPOINTMENTS AND MEMBERSHIPS
Head of Cloisters Human Rights group
Council of JUSTICE 2014-2016
Discrimination Law Association
Employment Law Association
Lawyers for Liberty
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)