Sonia Ahmad

Sonia Ahmad

Director - Solicitor

Sonia’s experience includes acting for various individuals and corporate entities in respect of criminal and civil investigations; and all general litigation matters.

Public Law and Human Rights:

Sonia’s experience includes various legal challenges against government agencies such as challenging search warrants obtained and executed by the NCA and HMRC. Sonia has brought challenges against the NCA, HMRC, Metropolitan Police Service, CPS and local councils.

Sonia has been acting for the C family & others since 2015 in their various claims, such as challenging search warrants and a production order obtained by the NCA which, following the substantive Judicial Review hearings were declared unlawful and the NCA were refused relief under section 59 of the CJPA; and successfully challenging authorisations by the Surveillance Commissioner to allow covert surveillance at the headquarters of companies owned and/or controlled by the C family. These authorisations were quashed by way of judgment dated 20 July 2015. This case resulted in the IPT making the first ever award for costs in favour of the C family, against the NCA. As a result of the successful legal actions taken on behalf of the C family, the NCA’s investigation ‘Operation Heterodon’ was the subject of vast public criticism and an independent review. Sonia proceeded to act for the C family in settling a damages claim and obtaining a public letter of apology from the NCA.

Account Freezing Orders; Account Forfeiture Orders; Unexplained Wealth Orders; and Privacy

Sonia was instructed on behalf of Mr Suleyman Javadov and Mrs Izzat Khanim Javadova to defend the National Crime Agency’s applications for Account Freezing Orders initially; and subsequently for Account Forfeiture Orders under s303Z14 of POCA in relation to funds contained in 10 bank accounts belonging to the clients. The case was settled with the National Crime Agency on a commercial no-admissions basis. See Comment

There was substantial press interest in publishing the clients’ identities. Upon successful applications by Sonia and the legal team, on behalf of her clients, the press was not permitted to publish details of the case during the investigative Account Freezing Order stage. Banks Kelly were successful in protecting the clients’ identities for a 2-year period. 

It was subsequently ordered that the forfeiture hearing would proceed in public at Westminster Magistrates' Court and the clients’ identities could therefore be published. The case was settled before the forfeiture hearing took place, and the trial evidence was therefore not available to the press or the public.

The open justice principle was tested in the Divisional Court where Fulford LJ and Johnson J handed down the decision in Javadov & Anor v Westminster Magistrates’ Court & Others [2021] EWHC 2393 (QB). Banks Kelly and the legal team successfully argued that during the Account Freezing Order applications, a respondent’s Article 8 ECHR rights may be engaged when Account Freezing Orders applications are being considered by a Court. Therefore, in the future, when a Court hears an Account Freezing Order application and a respondent seeks privacy on the basis of infringement of his/her Article 8 rights, the Court will have to consider the evidence and weigh the competing interests in relation to the hearing proceeding in public or private. 

Sonia was also instructed on a complex privacy case for over 18 months on behalf of her clients in a matter before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). See Case Update

General Litigation; Fraud; and Business Crime:

Sonia is regularly involved in all litigation matters including, commercial and civil litigation and various multi-jurisdictional disputes.

Sonia is also involved in contentious probate matters; charity disputes; as well as matters involving alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration.

Sonia represented various defendants in a complex multi-jurisdictional matter whereby the defendants had been the subject of worldwide and domestic freezing injunctions, propriety injunctions, and various Orders obtained on the basis of serious allegations of fraud put forward. Sonia successfully settled the matter out of Court.

She is presently instructed on over 200 tax investigations into numerous corporate entities and also has previous experience of acting on behalf of Appellants and Respondents in Court of Appeal cases against HMRC.

Sonia has previously been instructed by: various companies in association with one of the largest private prosecution matters; by person(s) subject to sting operations by Mazher Mahmood, more commonly known as the ‘Fake Sheikh’; by individuals and corporate entities due to their alleged involvement in a ‘pension liberating scheme’.

International Sanctions:

Sonia has acted for various applicants listed on the EU Sanctions lists who have either been successfully de-listed after a substantive hearing before the General Court in Luxembourg, or beforehand by making detailed representations to the EU Council.

Sonia’s experience also includes successfully obtaining licences from the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) in respect of dealing with, and receiving funds from frozen assets; and making representations in respect of restrictive measures such as travel bans.

Environmental Law:

Sonia’s experience also includes acting on environmental cases. Sonia has been instructed on behalf of a corporate entity in respect of allegations of committing offences under Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 and potential offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Environmental Offences related were for carrying out a flood risk activity, namely excavation works within 8 metres of a main river, without a flood risk activity permit; and carrying out a flood risk activity, namely the deposit of excavated materials on the banks and the re-profiling of the banks of a main river, without a flood risk activity permit. See Case Update

Sonia was featured in the October 2020 publication of the Law Society Gazette. See Article

Sonia obtained a BA in Economics and Law from the University of Leicester; her Legal Practice Course and LLM Legal Practice from BPP Leeds; and thereafter qualified as a solicitor in London in 2014. Sonia was appointed director of Banks Kelly in January 2019.

Sonia enjoys travelling, and spending time with her family and friends.

What our clients say

“Sonia is a sharp, incisive and analytical solicitor. Her focus always remains on bringing about the best outcome for her client but at the same time she is not afraid of offering a differing opinion if she feels it’s the correct thing to do. She is able not just to deal with today’s problem but also extrapolate that to eventual possible outcomes for the client . She is very easy to work with and  nothing is too much trouble for her. Her administrative ability is head and shoulders above many others and allows her to be very knowledgeable about her client’s case with information always at her fingertips and this particularly stands her apart from many other solicitors who are in the same field.”

“Sonia was a godsend. She foresaw possible developments and developed a sound strategy which she executed using her multi-jurisdictional expertise. As her client I always knew what was happening with my case, what to expect, and what was required of me. When I needed to contact her urgently, she was available and engaged and she adapted swiftly and powerfully to changing circumstances. Sonia is an intelligent, dedicated, brilliant solicitor and I would heartily recommend her.“