Azeem Suterwalla

Call: 2004 | 2018 (Ireland)

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Education

BA (Oxon) Modern History 1st Class MA (Harvard) Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, Thesis with Distinction

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Introduction

 

I like his style very much – he’s quick and client-focused and he knows what we’re trying to achieve.” – Chambers UK, 2020

His advocacy is really superb, he has the ear of the court.” – Chambers UK, 2018

He makes it look easy.” – Chambers UK, 2020

Extremely responsive, often at very short notice, and great at communicating with the clients.” – Chambers UK, 2020

Good at seeing every angle.’’ – Legal 500, 2020

Azeem is a leading junior with a well-established practice across Chambers’ core areas, offering expertise in Judicial Review, Public Procurement, Competition, Information Law, and general commercial work. In addition to acting as a trial and appellate lawyer, a significant part of Azeem’s practice is advisory. He is often instructed in his own right, or to lead as a “senior junior”, but he is equally happy to, and often works, as a member of a large team of counsel and solicitors.

Azeem is recommended in the Legal 500 and in Chambers UK as a leading practitioner across four practice areas: Administrative/Public Law, Public Procurement, Civil Liberties and Human Rights and Community Care. He is a member of the Attorney General’s B Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown, advising and representing the UK government in his areas of practice. He was previously Counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA” – between January 2016 and 2020).

Azeem’s Judicial Review and Human Rights practice is wide ranging and he acts across several fields. He has acted in numerous important children related and social welfare cases and undertakes the full range of community care work. Azeem has acted in a number of the leading cases concerning the retention of information by the State and regularly undertakes Data Protection and FOIA related work. He has undertaken cases involving immigration detention and challenges against housing allocation schemes run by Housing Authorities. Many of his cases involve the application of fundamental human rights. Azeem also has a significant commercial judicial review practice. His clients include commercial operators, local authorities, charities and other public bodies. Recent cases include The Avaaz Foundation’s challenge against OFCOM’s decision to find that a merged Fox/Sky entity would be fit and proper to hold a broadcast licence, a challenge by a gliding organisation against the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision to re-designate airspace, concerns by Gatwick residents as to the operation of a key flightpath from the airport and a challenge by an energy company against a substantial penalty levied against it by Central Government.

Azeem has acted in some of the most significant public procurement cases in recent years. He was junior counsel for the Secretary of State for Transport in the Eurotunnel, “Brexit Ferries” case and acted in the follow-on litigation – P&O Ferries v Secretary of State for Transport. Azeem is part of a team of counsel representing the Secretary of State in the rail franchising litigation – West Coast Trains Partnership Limited & Ors v Secretary of State for Transport, listed by the The Lawyer as one of the top cases of 2020. He regularly acts for claimant bidders seeking to challenge contract award decisions and interested parties seeking to protect their position.

Azeem’s work in EU and competition law includes acting for DAF in the ongoing Trucks follow on litigation, acting for a household name in relation to an investigation by the CMA into its practices, acting for the CMA in the viagogo litigation relating to the regulation of the secondary ticketing market, acting for a major “big six” energy provider, in a dispute with the CMA (together with Daniel Beard QC and Josh Holmes QC), and (together with Daniel Beard QC) acting for a global pharmaceutical company in a patent dispute with another such company.

  • News
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  • Administrative & public

    Azeem undertakes judicial review and human rights cases across a number of different areas. Chambers and Partners 2020 says: “He’s keen to take on challenging cases and push the boundaries of the law where appropriate.”

    Cases

    Notable cases include:

    • R (Lasham Gliding Society) Ltd. v Civil Aviation Authority [2019] EWCH 2118 (Admin). Challenge by the UK’s largest Gliding Society against the decision of the CAA to recategorise airspace around Farnborough Airport. The first case to consider the correct interpretation of s. 70(2) Transport Act 2000.
    • R (Gullu) v Hillingdon LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 692; [2019] PTSR 1738. Court of Appeal authority that a 10-year residence requirement in a Housing Authority’s allocation scheme indirectly discriminated against Irish Travellers and Refugees.
    • R (Avaaz) v OFCOM [2018] EWHC 1972 (Admin). Challenge against the decision of OFCOM to sanction a merger between Sky and Fox. Consideration by the High Court of the “fit and proper” test set down in broadcast legislation.
    • Secretary of State for the Home Department v Watson [2018] 2 QB 912. Challenge against the compatibility of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 with EU law.
    • R (KA) v Croydon LBC [2017] EWHC 1723 (Admin). The High Court considered whether the termination, without notice, of accommodation and support to an unaccompanied asylum seeking minor was a breach of the constitutional right of access to the courts and/or a breach of Article 8 ECHR.
    • R (OK) v Barking and Dagenham LBC [2017] EWHC 2092 (Admin). The High Court gave guidance as to how local authorities should determine whether over-stayer families should receive support under s. 17 Children Act 1989.
    • R (S) v Croydon LBC [2017] EWHC 265 (Admin); [2017] PTSR 744.  A test case as to whether a local authority is obligated to treat, as a child, a young person claiming to be under the age of 18, but where a final decision on his age has not yet been taken.
    • R (S) v Haringey LBC [2016] EWHC 2692 (Admin); (2016) CCL Rep 527. A successful challenge against a refusal by the local authority to provide accommodation and support to a family of over-stayers under s. 17 of the Children Act 1989.
    • R (M) v Islington LBC [2016] EWHC 332 (Admin); [2016] HLR 19. The leading authority on the construction of s. 27 of the Children Act 1989, and whether that obligates one limb of a local authority to act under the direction of another limb, in the context of providing social housing.
    • R (G) (Afghanistan) v SSHD [2015] EWHC 3185 (Admin) and AS v SSHD [2015] EWHC 1331 (QB). Claims for unlawful detention on behalf of detained asylum seeking children.
    • R (Robson) v Salford City Council [2015] EWCA 6; [2015] PTSR 1349. A leading authority on the obligation of local authorities to adequately consult before taking wide-ranging social care decisions.
    • R (T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and Secretary of State or the Home Department [2014] 3 WLR 96. The Supreme Court held that the disclosure provisions of the Police Act 1997 – requiring all cautions and convictions to be disclosed on criminal record certificates – were incompatible with Article 8 of the Convention.
    • R (MK) v LB Barking and Dagenham [2013] EWHC 3486 (Admin). The first case to consider the scope of s. 1 of the Localism Act 2011, in the context of the provision of community care services, as well as the scope of s. 17(3) of the Children Act 1989.
    • R (ES) v LB Barking and Dagenham [2013] EWHC 691 (Admin). The local authority’s refusal to provide the claimant with Children Act 1989 support, because she was a failed asylum seeker, was unlawful.
    • R (R) v Croydon LBC [2013] EWHC 4243 (Admin). The local authority was bound to treat the claimant as a former relevant child because it had wrongly assessed his age when he was a child, and therefore must be taken to have “looked after” him until he turned 18.
    • R (RMC) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2012] EWHC 1681. The Police’s policy of retaining photographs of persons not convicted of a crime was in breach of Article 8.
    • R (AE) v Croydon LBC [2012] EWCA Civ 547. The first successful appeal in the Court of Appeal against a finding of fact made in the High Court of an age disputed minor’s age.
    • R (HA) v Hillingdon LBC [2012] EWHC 291 (Admin). Guidance given by the High Court on when a continuing duty under the Children Act 1989 subsists against a local authority, notwithstanding that the child in question has moved out of its area.
    • R (GC) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] 1 WLR 1230. A decision of the Supreme Court that the ACPO policy allowing the continued retention of DNA and fingerprint data, in the light of the decision in S v UK, was unlawful.
    • R (J) v Croydon LBC [2011] EWHC 3970 (Admin). Guidance was given as to when it was appropriate for the High Court to transfer age dispute cases to the Upper Tribunal.
    • R (B) v Nottingham City Council [2011] EWHC 2933 (Admin). The High Court considered in what circumstances a “retrospective” duty arose under s. 20 of the Children Act 1989.
    • R (JF) v Hackney LBC [2010] EWHC 3130 (Admin). The local authority had acted unlawfully in failing to put in place a specific and particularised care plan to meet the needs of a severely autistic child.
    • R (G) v The London Borough of Southwark [2009] 1 WLR 1299. Successful Supreme Court appeal as to the meaning and scope of s. 20 of the Children Act 1989 and the interrelationship between that Act and the Housing Act 1996.
    • R (A) v The London Borough of Croydon [2009] EWHC 939 Admin; [2009] Fam. Law 659. The High Court ruled on the correct role of pediatric evidence when assessing the age of age disputed minors.
    • R (Jones) v Nottingham City Council [2009] EWHC 271 (Admin); [2009] ACD 42. This case concerned the scope of the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court in revisiting orders made on costs.
    • R (M) v The London Borough of Sutton [2007] EWCA Civ 1205; [2008] ELR 123. An appeal in the Court of Appeal concerning whether local education authorities were under an obligation to provide parents of children with special education needs with a specific choice of schools before absolving themselves of a duty to provide school transport.
  • Public procurement

    Azeem is experienced in all areas of Public Procurement litigation and related advisory work. Chambers and Partners 2020 describes Azeem as “Extremely responsive, often at very short notice, and great at communicating with the clients.

    Cases

    Recent highlights include:

    • Acting for a technology company, in respect of a challenge against the award of a substantial contract for the installation of an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, against a local authority.
    • Acting for the Secretary of State for Transport in West Coast Trains Partnership Limited & Ors v Secretary of State for Transport, litigation concerning the award of rail franchises, in a three-week trial before Stuart-Smith J.
    • Marine Specialised Technology Ltd v Secretary of State for Defence [2019] EWCH 2727 (TCC). A claim for substantial loss alleging breach of the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011.
    • Acting for the Secretary of State for Transport in the recent high-profile Eurotunnel (“Brexit Ferries”) litigation [2019] EWHC 419 (TCC) and the follow-on claim of P&O Ferries v Secretary of State for Transport.
    • Advising a losing bidder with respect to a claim against the Ministry of Defence concerning a substantial contract for social care services in Cyprus. The MoD subsequently cancelled its decision to award the contract to the winning bidder and agreed to carry out a fresh procurement exercise.
    • DHL Supply Chain Ltd v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care [2018] EWCH 2213 (TCC). Acting for an Interested Party, where the Claimant, DHL, sought to challenge the award of a contract for the provision of logistics services for the NHS and social care services, with a value of £730m. Representing the interests of the Interested Party in respect of applications by DHL for the lifting of the automatic suspension and certain disclosure.
    • Acting for an Interested Party (the winning bidder) in litigation concerning the award of contracts for LPG gas.
    • Acting for a losing bidder in a competition concerning the implementation of a pilot scheme for provision of Stoma appliances by NHS organisations. The NHS decided to cancel the award of the contract following pre-action correspondence by the losing bidder.
    • Acting for a contracting authority in a claim by a losing bidder concerning a large contract for the provision of maintenance repairs to social housing units.
    • Providing ongoing advice to a major defence company as to the effect and implications of the single source contracting regime.
    • Openview Security Solutions Ltd v London Borough of Merton [2015] EWHC 2694 (TCC); [2015] B.L.R. 735, a leading case on the appropriate test as to when an automatic suspension of a contract should be lifted.
    • Advising a treasured national institution in a high-profile case relating to the loss of a contract for which it had been the incumbent for 93 years.
    • Advising a major national organisation as to the potential implications of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and the United States, including the public procurement ramifications of TTIP.
  • Commercial/competition

    Azeem undertakes competition and general commercial law work.

    Cases

    Recent cases include:

    • Acting for a professional organisation in relation to a multi-million-pound contractual dispute arising from a publicly tendered competition held by a local authority.
    • Royal Mail Group Limited v DAF Trucks Limited and Others. Azeem is one of a team of counsel acting for DAF in this follow-on litigation arising out of the European Commission’s Trucks Decision.
    • CMA v viagogo. Acting for the CMA together with Rob Williams in this claim seeking enforcement acting against viagogo for failures to comply with consumer rights obligations in connection with the secondary ticketing market.
    • Advising the CMA as to enforcement action in the online hotel bookings’ market.
    • Acting (together with Daniel Beard QC and Josh Holmes QC) for a “big six” energy provider in a dispute with the Competition and Markets Authority.
    • Acting (together with Daniel Beard QC) for a major global pharmaceutical company in a patent dispute with another such company, where a key defence to the claim was based on competition law principles: Generics (UK) Limited trading as Mylan v Warner-Lambert Company LLC v Secretary of State for Health [2015] EWHC 2548 (Pat)
    • Acting (together with Philip Moser QC) for a Californian company in defence of a claim by a UK agent under the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993 (Brand Studio Ltd v St John Knits Inc [2015] EWHC 3143 (QB); [2015] Bus LR 1421).
  • Freedom of information and data protection

    Azeem regularly advises on and acts in Freedom of Information and Data Protection matters. He was junior counsel in a series of leading cases governing the use of information by the police and is the author of “Collection and Retention of Person Data” in “Human Rights in the Investigation and Prosecution of Crime” (2009), OUP, ed. Madeleine Colvin and Jonathan Cooper.

    Cases

    Recent work includes:

    • Advising a government department as to the applicability of the GDPR/DPA 2018 to proposals it wished to make to combat online harm.
    • Advising a property company in respect of a potential claim under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, concerning a refusal by a Council to grant planning permission.
    • Representing the Ministry of Justice in a DPA claim brought against it.
    • Advising a pharmaceutical company in respect of a FOIA request made to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulation Authority.
    • Providing advice to a government department on the applicability of the GDPR/DPA 2018, in the context of the reporting of persons from abroad with no entitlement to free access to the NHS.
    • Representing the Department of Health in Department of Health v The Information Commissioner [2019] UKFTT 2018_0001 (GRC), an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against a decision of the Information Commissioner to allow the release of information relating to the Government’s childhood obesity plan.

    Notable cases include:

    • R (T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and Secretary of State or the Home Department [2014] 3 WLR 96. The Supreme Court held that the disclosure provisions of the Police Act 1997 – requiring all cautions and convictions to be disclosed on criminal record certificates – were incompatible with Article 8 of the Convention.
    • R (GC) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] 1 WLR 1230. A decision of the Supreme Court that the ACPO policy allowing the continued retention of DNA and fingerprint data, in the light of the decision in S v UK, was unlawful.
    • R (RMC) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2012] EWHC 1681. The Police’s policy of retaining photographs of persons not convicted of a crime was in breach of Article 8.
    • S v The United Kingdom [2008] 48 EHRR 50. Before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. The Court held that the indefinite retention of DNA and fingerprint data in respect of persons not convicted of a crime constituted a violation of their Article 8 rights.
  • Additional information

    Before coming to the Bar Azeem worked for the United Nations in the Middle East (Gaza City) and was a Judicial Assistant to the former Master of the Rolls, now Supreme Court Justice Lord Clarke. He was awarded a Major Scholarship from Inner Temple for the PgDL (2002) and was a Chapman Scholar during the BVC year (2003).

    Azeem’s publications include:

    Judicial Review, Supperstone, Goudie and Walker, 6th ed.

    Children in Need: local authority support for children and families, LAG, 2013

    Collection and Retention of Personal Data in Human Rights in the Investigation and Prosecution of Crime, eds. Madeline Colvin and Jonathan Cooper, OUP 2009

    Azeem is a member of the Administrative Law Bar Association and the Human Rights Lawyers Association.

    Education

    BA (Oxon) Modern History 1st Class

    MA (Harvard) Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, Thesis with Distinction

    PgDL; Major Scholar, Inner Temple, 2002,

    Chapman Scholar, Inner Temple, 2003

    Languages

    Arabic (Intermediate)

    Memberships

    Administrative Law Bar Association

    Human Rights Lawyers Association

  • What the directories say

    Administrative & Public Law: “Very good at having a wider appreciation of our litigation strategy. His judgement is excellent and he helped to steer us through some difficult issues.” “Excellent at reassuring the client and putting them at ease. He put forward quite a cutting-edge argument and the client was happy to go with it.” Chambers UK, 2021

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “He’s very clever, well organised and good on paper.” – Chambers UK, 2021

    Public Procurement: “A pragmatic, precise and authoritative junior, particularly in cases where complex public law and judicial review issues intermesh with regulated procurement and freedom of information law.” “He knows procurement law inside and out.”- Chambers UK, 2021

    Community Care: “He fights his clients’ cases really hard but is also very open to discussions and negotiations. He’s very fair-minded and his advocacy is excellent.” “A particularly skilled and knowledgeable public law barrister. He is able to focus on the pertinent issues and advise on the risks and difficulties each case brings, but is always willing to fight for his clients.”- Chambers UK, 2021

    Leading junior in Administrative and Public law: ‘‘Ability to see core issue and formulate best strategy to achieve outcome sought. A great awareness of potential pitfalls and the ability to steer through them.’’Legal 500, 2021

    Leading junior in Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police): ‘‘Clarity of thought and the ability to draw on considerable expertise in a client-friendly manner. Sound judgement and pragmatic approach.’’Legal 500, 2021

    Administrative & Public Law: “I like his style very much – he’s quick and client-focused and he knows what we’re trying to achieve.” “He’s keen to take on challenging cases and push the boundaries of the law where appropriate. He has sound judgement and is able to think tactically about a case.” “He is reliable and very prompt to respond to any issues you may have. He is good on his feet in court and persuasive with his written pleadings.” Chambers UK, 2020

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “Azeem is reliable and very prompt to respond to any issues you may have. He is good on his feet in court and persuasive in his written pleadings.” “He makes it look easy. He has a special rapport with the clients, especially those who have been let down by the system on a number of occasions.” – Chambers UK, 2020

    Public Procurement: “Extremely responsive, often at very short notice, and great at communicating with the clients.”- Chambers UK, 2020

    Community Care: “He’s absolutely charming and very effective as an opponent.” “He gets to grips with the key issues of a case really quickly, and has the wider case in his mind at all times. He’s always thinking about the next steps and what evidence would be required.”- Chambers UK, 2020

    Leading junior in Administrative and Public law: ‘‘Good at seeing every angle.’’Legal 500, 2020

    Leading junior in Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police): ‘‘His advocacy is excellent.’’Legal 500, 2020

    Administrative & Public Law: “Prompt, efficient, personable and easy to work with. He turns around work extremely quickly.” “A sensible advocate.” Chambers UK, 2019

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “Azeem is a committed and bright public law barrister. He is keen to take on challenging cases and push at the boundaries of the law, where appropriate. He has sound judgement and is able to think tactically about a case.”Chambers UK, 2019

    Public Procurement: “Really responsive and has a great grasp of some horribly complex areas of law.” “He’s incredibly approachable and builds up a good rapport with our clients.”- Chambers UK, 2019

    Community Care: “He is one of our go-to barristers: he delivers every time and he really cares about the client.”- Chambers UK, 2019

    Leading junior in Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police): ‘‘Excels on his feet and is exceptionally good at cross-examination.’’Legal 500, 2018

    Administrative & Public Law: “His drafting is really good, and tactically he is very strong.” “Brilliantly friendly, incredibly enthusiastic and he has an eye for detail. He can think through and unpick the most complex problems.” “His advocacy is really superb, he has the ear of the court.” Chambers UK, 2018

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “He is efficient and always ready to be helpful with queries.” “He is very pleasant and has a good manner with the court.”Chambers UK, 2018

    Community Care: “He is willing to discuss cases on an initial pre-funding basis, and he’s got a very good grasp of the leading care duties. He is very responsive, highly approachable and very good at making you feel comfortable.”- Chambers UK, 2018

    Leading junior in Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police): ‘‘He is tenacious in his advocacy yet approaches each issue with sensitivity.’’Legal 500, 2017

    Administrative & Public Law: “Approachable and quick to turn around work. A sensible, pragmatic and no-nonsense approach. A very good trial lawyer. Easy to work with.” “He’s a very effective and engaging advocate.”Chambers UK, 2017

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “He’s a very good trial lawyer with a sensible, pragmatic, no-nonsense approach.” “Azeem Suterwalla is efficient and always ready to help with queries.”Chambers UK, 2017

    Community Care: “He takes a sensible, pragmatic and no-nonsense approach.” – Chambers UK, 2017

    Leading junior in Civil Liberties and Human Rights (including actions against the police): ‘‘Not afraid of a fight and strongly committed to his clients.’’ Legal 500, 2016

    Community Care: “It is a pleasure to be against Azeem. He is unflappable, tenacious and a real pro in anything to do with care users.” Chambers UK, 2016

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “He is great to work with – he has a very friendly, approachable style. He is in his element in court and when on his feet he deals with complicated cases without fuss and with total ease. He’s very succinct in his written work and very quick as well. He’s unflappable, you can chuck urgent cases at him and he will churn them out.” Chambers UK, 2016

    Administrative & Public Law: “He’s great, good and effective. He fights well for his clients and is a delightful person and a fair opponent.” “He’s very passionate about the rights of children.” – Chambers UK, 2016

    ”A deep understanding of privacy and security cases.” Leading Junior Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law. Legal 500, 2015

    Administrative & Public Law: “He fights tooth and nail for the client, the quality of his written work is very good and he has a very confident and assured courtroom manner.” “He’s a very nice opponent, but doesn’t pull any punches and is effective.” – Chambers UK, 2015

    Civil Liberties & Human Rights: “He is very capable and has a very good grasp of what is needed to assist the client.” Chambers UK, 2015

    Community Care: “Extremely engaged and a very good tactician.” “Really bright and pleasant to deal with.”Chambers UK, 2015

    Under Administrative and Public Law (2014):

    Handles public law cases concerning the rights of prisoners, vulnerable adults, asylum seekers and children. He is also interested in matters relating to education.

    Expertise: “His knowledge is amazing, and he makes himself available to answer queries.”

    Recent work: Acted against the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. The case challenged the police’s policy of retaining photographs of suspects subsequent to their being released without conviction.

    Under Civil Liberties and Human Rights (2014):

    Specialises in the human rights aspects of cases concerning asylum, prisoners’ rights, social housing, education, disability and police retention of information. He demonstrates additional expertise in civil liberties cases arising in the field of public law.

    Expertise: “His knowledge is amazing and he makes himself available to answer queries.” “He has a very good understanding of his areas of law and is a very good advocate.”

    Recent work: Acted for the claimants in a case brought to determine whether the police’s retention of photographs of suspects who were not convicted of any crime was in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Under Community Care (2014):

    This promising junior has acted as sole counsel in both the High Court and Court of Appeal, and also appeared as junior counsel in the ECHR. Receives notable praise for his expertise in age assessment cases, and also specialises in work related to vulnerable and disabled children and adults.

    Expertise: “He certainly has the respect of the court. He has quite a wide focus, but he is a big presence in age assessment cases.”

    Recent work: Represented the claimant in R (R) v LB Croydon on leaving care duties under the Children Act 1989.

    Earlier years include:

    “His broad practice has caught the attention of his peers at the Bar, and his impact on clients is clear: ‘Within 20 minutes, everyone was laughing and smiling – the clients were happy because of his sense of authority and the fact that he’d clearly really understood the case.’ – 2013

    “Bright and creative and makes real inroads.” – 2013

    “Impresses with his responsive advice and creative approach to problem solving” – 2013

    “a courageous advocate who ‘really pushes the boundaries’” – 2012

    “a junior who is going places” and “excellent on the papers and has a great grasp of the issues” – 2011

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