By Jeremy Allen, Media Relations
A Bristol Law School graduate has been named Human Rights Lawyer of the Year by the Law Society, the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales. Ravi Naik was awarded the accolade for work as a leading lawyer representing a client on the Cambridge Analytica case.
After receiving the award Naik, who is partner at Irvine Thanvi Natas Solicitors, said: “Receiving this recognition is fantastic and something I never expected. When I was a student at UWE I could only dream about winning this and it is a testament to the education received there and the people I have subsequently been lucky enough to work with,” he added.
The solicitor studied for a law degree at UWE Bristol, graduating in 2006. He later went on to work in London for the human rights organisation Reprieve to help release British detainees from Guantanamo prison. While at the organisation, he was involved in the case that led to the release of Binyam Mohamed, who was freed from the jail and returned to the UK in 2009.
Naik now works on cases that protect individuals’ data rights. These have included helping a client access their data on Tinder, which revealed 800 pages of information including photos, online chats, education among other data.
The lawyer and his team are also representing an individual on the case that has brought Cambridge Analytica to task about a large quantity of data, which it is accused of harvesting from Facebook profiles and using for political purposes. He is also the lead lawyer against Facebook for the related breach.
“As more and more authority has shifted from public to private entities, a new power relationship has arisen. For me, this work is about re-calibrating that imbalance,” he said. “My interest has always been to hold power to account and give voice to individuals. People have begun to understand that digital services they receive mean that they are often not as free as they might have been. We are starting to see the power of data rights as human rights.”
Human rights has been a topic of interest to Ravi for many years. His great uncle was one of the first Asian barristers to qualify in the UK, before he returned to India as part of the freedom struggle for independence. “He instilled in me this idea that by using the law you can effect change. Later I was lucky to work with some of the best lawyers, academics, journalists and others across the world. They helped me to understand how you can push boundaries in law to also bring about change in international jurisdictions.”
The award was presented at the Law Society Excellence Awards in London on 18 October by news presenter Mishal Husain and Law Society President Christina Blacklaws.