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HALL OF FAME INTERVIEW

HALL OF FAME > INTERVIEWS > DR BERNARD ANDONIAN

INTERVIEW: DR BERNARD ANDONIAN
CONSULTANT SOLICITOR
GULBENKIAN ANDONIAN SOLICITORS

The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence.

H A L L   O F   F A M E   I N T E R V I E W


What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?

I have been the co-founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, a top tier one Immigration law firm (recognised by >The legal 500 as such), which I helped to establish in 1985. I was a partner there, then senior partner and now a consultant to the firm. I was appointed by the then Lord Chancellor as an immigration judge in 1997, a position that I hold to this day. I was elected as an Executive Committee member of ILPA (Immigration Law Practitioner’s Association) but resigned from that post in 1997 after my appointment as immigration judge, due to possible conflict of interest issues. On 1st November 1999 I was appointed on what was then the law Society Immigration law panel. I was the partner solicitor responsible for the celebrated case of Shah and Islam 25th March 1999, in the House of Lords (now the Supreme Court), which created new law on the meaning of “a particular member of a social group,” within the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 protocol, hitherto never defined and unknown as a Convention right within the higher courts in the UK. That case has now been expanded to cater for many disadvantaged groups such as gays and lesbians from certain countries where they face persecution, who now come within its definition. It is still very good law. I was also the partner/solicitor responsible for the CJEC case of Baumbast and Rolet 2002, defining new rights of free movement of citizens in the EU.


What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

I am of the old school of thought. Everything has to be done “yesterday” to the extent that I was nicknamed “Mr urgent” by my peers. Also, I rarely leave matters to others to do if I can do them myself, even such matters as sending urgent documents to clients, as I know if I’ve done it, I can sleep in peace!


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Delegate more responsibility, and have trust in others. It will make one a better manager!


Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

I acted for a Vietnamese client, whose immigration issues had been left in abeyance, and were dragging on. He was so impressed with the speed in which I resolved his immigration issues and obtained his permanent residence and then his British nationality, that he became one of the biggest introducers of clients, is now part of the firm and introduces not only business and other immigration work, but also substantial property work both domestic and commercial. By the same token we acted for the wife of an ex-police officer who has now become an integral part of the firm not only by introducing clients but as business and IT development employee as well!


Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

I believe Brexit negotiations are causing uncertainties, particularly amongst our EU clients who are uncertain as to their future in the UK. The challenge is to keep them on a positive footing as they have jobs and families in this country. In addition, as we shall be in control of our own laws after Brexit, there will in my view be the tightening up of the definition of the a “refugee” and the Human Rights Act 1998 may be abolished in favour of a Bill of Rights, or equally amended.

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