Masters of the Bench
Her Honour Judge Sapnara
Full Title: Her Honour Judge SapnaraCategory: Ordinary Bencher
Bench Call Date: 21.7.2015
Call Date: 27.11.1990
Khatun Sapnara was appointed as a Circuit Judge in March 2014. She sits in family (East London Family Court) and crime (Kingston Crown Court) and was elected a Bencher in 2015. She is co-Chair of the Temple Women’s Forum and serves on the Inn’s Bench Selection Advisory Committee.
As a child, she left her village in Sylhet District, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and arrived in the UK in the wake of the turmoil of the Bangladeshi liberation struggle. She attended state schools in Essex, where she learned to speak English. She graduated with an LLB (Hons) from the London School of Economics and was Called to the Bar, at a time when women barristers were not yet permitted to wear trousers in court.
Khatun helped establish a new set of barristers’ chambers in Bethnal Green in 1991. Situated at the top of Brick Lane, this was the first set of chambers in London outside the rarefied legal preserve of the Inns of Court. The chambers offered its premises and services to community organisations in East London. Khatun later joined Coram Chambers, specialising in family law.
In 2003, she became the first BAME barrister to be elected to the Family Law Bar Association, and also served on the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Committee. She was appointed as an expert to the Family Justice Council in 2004. In 2012 she chaired a Home Office Domestic Homicide Review and she was instrumental in the creation of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 and trained all tiers of the judiciary on the subject. She was Chair of Ashiana (a refuge for victims of forced marriage) and sat on the boards of a number of charities including Rights of Women, as well as advising Women’s Aid and the NSPCC.
Khatun taught at the Judicial College for 12 years and has set test papers and interviewed Recorder candidates for the Judicial Appointments Commission. In 2018 she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, by Royal Holloway (University of London).
She was appointed by the Lord Chief Justice as a Diversity Community Relations Judge and a Judicial Role Model.