Year of Call: 2012
Zahra has a broad practice encompassing commercial, European, public and human rights law. She also has expertise in public international law, building on both her education and experience prior to coming to the Bar. She has an LLM in public international law from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has 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 such as state jurisdiction and state immunity. Prior to that, she interned with the Steering Committee of the UN International Compact with Iraq, where she drafted advice on Iraq's international human rights obligations and issues of transitional justice.
Zahra’s previous experience also includes working as a Judicial Assistant to Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Vice President of the Court of Appeal (Civil Division); and with the public law team at the Law Commission for England and Wales, where she was involved in the reform of Adult Social Care and the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals.
Zahra’s particular strength is in advising on questions of private and public international law arising in multi-jurisdictional disputes. In addition to advising individuals and international organisations on questions of state immunity, she appeared unled in L R Avionics Technologies Ltd v The Federal Republic of Nigeria & Anor  EWHC 1761 (Comm), where she represented the claimant in an enforcement action worth $5 million.
Zahra has appeared in the County Court on a number of commercial disputes, and appeared on her own in the Court of Appeal to seek permission to appeal in connection with the construction of a contract. Previous instructions also include Cattles Limited v PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, a substantial claim in the Commercial Court concerning alleged auditor negligence, and NCC Skills Ltd v Ascentis  EWHC 2006 (QB), an application for summary judgment for breach of contract.
During pupillage, Zahra gained a broad experience in commercial law, including drafting advice on issues such as assignment of shares, interpretation of exclusion clauses in a major shipping contract and interpretation of clauses in a number of insurance contracts. She also assisted on a number of applications, including an application for a split trial, an application for security for costs and a freezing injunction.
Zahra has significant experience advising on a wide range of issues relating to EU economic sanctions, ranging from challenges against designation to advising on questions of compliance with sanctions both generally and in relation to particular transactions. Notable cases include:
- Case C-266/15 P Central Bank of Iran v Council, an appeal before the ECJ brought by the Central Bank of Iran challenging its designation by the EU Council (as junior to Maya Lester QC)
- Case C-330/15 P Tomana and others v Council and Commission, an appeal before the ECJ brought by over 100 individuals and entities designated by the EU Council (as junior to Maya Lester QC)
- Case C-584/10 Commission and Others v Yassin Abdullah Kadi (as a pupil, assisting Maya Lester QC)
Zahra further developed her experience in relation to compliance with EU sanctions through a secondment at Peters & Peters, where she assisted in creating a global sanctions compliance policy for a large multinational corporation.
Zahra frequently advises on EU and competition law, often on a confidential basis. Notable cases include:
- Case C-547/14, a reference from the English High Court concerning the lawfulness of the Second Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU), in which Zahra acts for one of the interveners (as junior to Martin Chamberlain QC);
- Newby Foods Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v Food Standards Agency (No. 7)  EWHC 1340 (Admin), which considered an application to declare that the European Commission would be in contempt of court if it acted so as to interfere with interim relief granted by the court;
- A challenge by Commonwealth FS Bank Limited against Lloyds TSB Bank for abuse of dominance (resulting in a settlement); and
- United Kingdom v Council & Parliament, a challenge by the United Kingdom to the Short Selling Regulation (as a pupil, assisting Andrew Henshaw QC and Jemima Stratford QC).
Public law and human rights
Zahra has a broad experience in public law and human rights, including advising on the merits of judicial review claims and applications to the European Court of Human Rights. Notable cases include:
- Catt and T v Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis and Another  UKSC 9, an appeal before the Supreme Court concerning the legality under Article 8 ECHR of data retention by the police (as a junior to Paul Bowen QC)
- R (on the application of CN) v London Borough of Lewisham, an appeal concerning the compatibility of section 3 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 as currently construed with Article 8 ECHR (as a pupil, assisting Martin Chamberlain QC)
- R (on the application of RSPCA) v the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a judicial review challenge to the lawfulness of the current arrangements for the approval and supervision of live animal exports (as a pupil, assisting Andrew Henshaw QC and Fergus Randolph QC)
- R (on the application of Quintero) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, a judicial review challenge to the compatibility of Part VI of the Housing Act 1996 with Articles 8 and 14 ECHR (as a pupil, assisting Martin Chamberlain QC)
As a judicial assistance to Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Zahra wrote opinions on the merits of a number of appeals raising issues of public law and human rights. These included:
- EM (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1336; a case concerning whether removals to Italy under the Dublin II Regulation would entail a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the ECHR.
- R (On the application of AN (a child) and ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1636; a case concerning the rights of unaccompanied children arriving at UK ports and being processed under immigration control.
- Charles Terence Estates Ltd v Cornwall Council  EWCA Civ 1439; a case concerning the circumstances in which a public authority can escape liability to a private party by invoking its own lack of capacity in relation to the transaction.
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 and sits on its Executive Board.
Public international law
Zahra has a keen interest in cross-border disputes raising issues of public international law. Cases she has worked on include:
- Advising the International Patent Office in connection with an employment claim;
- Belhaj & Anor v Jack Straw & Ors, an appeal before the Supreme Court raising issues of state immunity and the act of state doctrine in connection with claims of complicity of UK agents in torture (acting for the interveners, as junior to Martin Chamberlain QC); and
- R (Noor Khan) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, a challenge to the UK's alleged practice of providing the authorities in the United States with intelligence to facilitate drone strikes in Pakistan (as a pupil, assisting Martin Chamberlain).
In 2008, Zahra worked as an assistant to the Legal Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq during the course of the bilateral negotiations between Iraq and the United States on the status of US troops in Iraq. She drafted advice on state jurisdiction and state immunity under international law. She also advised on questions relating to international boundary disputes and the law of the sea.
Zahra also interned with the Steering Committee of the UN International Compact with Iraq, where she drafted advice on Iraq's international human rights obligations and issues of transitional justice. Transitional justice in Iraq was the subject of her master’s dissertation.
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