+44 (0)20 7421 8000
36 Bedford Row, London, WC1R 4JH
+44 (0)20 7421 8000
36 Bedford Row
London, WC1R 4JH
Saoirse Townshend

Saoirse Townshend

Call: 2010


Practice Profile

Saoirse has a dynamic court and advisory practice specialising in extradition and public law. She is the founding member and head of 36 Bedford Row’s Extradition Team which she has built from zero since 2013. Saoirse is listed as Band 2 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners (having jumped two categories in one year for the latter). Comments include: “She always goes the extra mile and makes valuable contributions to the team” and “An impressive junior... Extremely bright and very focused, she takes an approach that is forensic, detailed and effective. She’s thorough and methodical in raising her arguments, and reliable in relation to time management”.

Saoirse is instructed alone and is led in complex and novel points of law before the Supreme Court and the Divisional Court. Last year, Saoirse appeared in the Supreme Court in an extradition appeal regarding the validity of European Arrest Warrants: Goluchowksi v District Court in Elblag, Poland and Sas v Circuit Court and District Court in Jelenia Gora, Poland [2016] UKSC 36. Saoirse is instructed in a further case (Alexander v France & Di Benedetto v Italy [2017] EWHC 1392 (Admin)) in which permission is awaited from the Supreme Court. In addition, she been instructed in some of the most defining cases of the last year in extradition law: Puceviciene v Lithuania [2016] EWHC 1862) on s.12A; Alexander and Di Benedetto on s.2 and Cakule v Latvia [2016] EWHC 2211 on human trafficking. She was also very recently instructed alone against a Silk and junior in a s.25 case (Bobbe v Poland) which may change the legal test relating to suicide cases following the new CJEU case of CK and others v Slovenia [2017] 3 CMLR 10. In addition, she successfully represented an Appellate requested person (Debiec v Poland​) in one of the first cases in which s.25 has been successful in EAW cases since Poland v Wolkowicz [2013] EWHC 102 (Admin). Saoirse has also represented both Requested Persons (Albania v Sultan Dragjoshi) and Judicial Authorities (Turkey v Charles [2017] A.C.D.84) in Part 2 cases.

Saoirse published a chapter on Judicial Review in Extradition Proceedings in Criminal Justice Review (Hart, 2014). She won the first judicial review in the area where the requested person in extradition proceedings was not removed within the statutory time period (see R (on the application of Mechlinksi) v Westminster Magistrates’ Court [2015] EWHC 2043 (Admin)). She was also an assistant editor of the 2014-2015 Extradition Law Reports.

She compliments her practice with her passion for international human rights work. This began as a legal researcher at the Humanitarian Law Centre in Belgrade and advising in the foreign policy department in Washington D.C. for the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Adapting her advocacy skills from the court-room to the field, Saoirse is regularly posted on OSCE election monitoring missions in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Furthermore, last Summer Saoirse acted as pro-bono counsel in refugee camps in Chios, Greece where she represented Syrian refugees at hearings which would determine whether they would be deported to Turkey following the EU-Turkey deal.