Zahra has a broad practice encompassing commercial litigation, public international law and public law. She has appeared as sole counsel in the High Court and Court of Appeal. She has also been led in cases before the Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union. Zahra has acted for a wide range of clients, including states and international organisations. She is a native Arabic speaker which makes her well placed to deal with any domestic litigation or international arbitration where her language skills can be used.
Zahra was selected for The Lawyer’s Hot 100 in 2020. She is frequently instructed in high profile cases in her areas of practice. Recently, she appeared in Canary Wharf v European Medicines Agency, the top case in The Lawyer’s top 20 Cases list for 2019, and she is currently instructed in Municipio de Mariana and ors v BHP Group, which features in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases list for 2020.
Zahra has experience in a range of commercial matters, including banking, insurance, civil fraud, shipping, professional negligence and general contractual disputes. Current instructions include:
Zahra has experience of challenges to arbitration awards under ss. 67, 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 as well as enforcement of arbitration awards under the New York Convention. She appeared unled in L R Avionics Technologies Ltd v The Federal Republic of Nigeria & Anor  EWHC 1761 (Comm), an enforcement action raising issues of state and consular immunity.
Zahra is particularly interested in multi-jurisdictional disputes raising questions of private and public international law. She has significant experience advising on state immunity, both in her work with the Legal Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq and in practice.
Zahra has a strong public international law practice, which includes both advisory work, in particular in relation to the immunity of states, international organisations and diplomats; as well as domestic litigation raising issues of public international law. Notable cases include:
Zahra also has a growing practice in investment treaty disputes. She is currently instructed in Al-Jazeera v Egypt ICSID Case No. ARB/16/1 (led by Toby Landau QC), as well as a substantial claim brought by an investor against a South Asian state pursuant to a bilateral investment treaty.
Before coming to the Bar, Zahra worked with the Legal Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq during the negotiations of the US-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement, advising on issues of state jurisdiction and state immunity.
Zahra is ranked as a leading junior in administrative and public law (Legal 500, 2020) where she is described as “an excellent junior in the ascendancy”. She has extensive experience of public law, including both advisory and judicial review in a broad range of areas including community care, housing, transport and energy, as well as proceedings under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Zahra has been instructed in a wide range of regulatory disputes, including industry and professional bodies, financial services and anti-money laundering, and pharmaceutical regulation.
Zahra frequently advises in relation to civil liberties and human rights, and has been involved in a number of high profile cases including Salman Butt v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 256 (led by Paul Bowen QC), a challenge to the Prevent duty guidance raising issues concerning freedom of speech and the right to privacy; and Catt and T v Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis and Another  UKSC 9 (led by Paul Bowen QC), an appeal before the Supreme Court concerning the legality under Article 8 ECHR of data retention by the police.
Zahra has a keen interest in human rights and law reform: she co-authored the Bingham Centre's Report on Streamlining Judicial Review in a Manner Consistent with the Rule of Law; she has worked with and volunteered for a number of NGOs, including the Public Law Project, Liberty and Amnesty International; and she is a Council Member of JUSTICE.
Zahra’s experience in practice builds on her experience with the public law team at the Law Commission for England & Wales, and her time working as a judicial assistant to Lord Justice Maurice Kay, the then Vice President of the Court of Appeal.
Zahra has extensive experience of advising on questions of EU law in the context of domestic litigation. Recent instructions include:
Zahra also has significant experience in relation to EU economic sanctions, from challenges against designation to advising on questions of compliance with sanctions both generally and in relation to particular transactions. Notable cases include:
Zahra further developed her experience in relation to compliance with EU sanctions through a secondment at Peters & Peters, where she played a key role in creating a global sanctions compliance policy for a large multinational corporation.
Z Al-Rikabi, “Kadi II: the right to effective judicial review triumphs yet again” European Human Rights Law Review E.H.R.L.R. (2013) No.6 Pages 631-636
M Fordham, M Chamberlain, I Steele and Z Al-Rikabi, “Streamlining Judicial Review in a Manner Consistent with the Rule of Law” Judicial Review (Hart, Vol 19, no. 2)
2012-13: Pupillage, Brick Court Chambers
2012: Judicial Assistant to Maurice Kay LJ, UK Court of Appeal
2010-12: Bar Professional Training Course, College of Law (Very Competent)
2010 - 11: Research Assistant, Law Commission for England and Wales
2008: Assistant, Office of the Legal Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq
2007 -10: LLM in Public International Law, London School of Economics (Merit)
2003 - 07: BA in Jurisprudence, New College, Oxford (First)
2013: Phoenicia Scholarship, Bar European Group
2010: Astbury Scholarship (Major), Middle Temple
2004: Slaughter and May Prize for the best performance in Introduction to Law for Law Moderations
2004: New College Scholarship and the Burden-Griffiths Book Prize for performance in Law Moderations
"She is fiercely intelligent and she works her socks off. A great team player, fine drafter, and displays sound judgement." (Legal 500 2021)
"A great team player and a fine drafter with sound judgement." (Legal 500 2021)
"An excellent junior in the ascendancy." (Legal 500 2020)