The Secretary of State for the Home Department v Respondent  UKUT B1 – Read judgment
There has been public outrage over the ruling of two Senior Immigration Judges that it would be unlawful to deport Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, an Iraqi Kurd, who has been labelled an “asylum seeker death driver”
The fury has not been limited to the lay public or the media, but “great anger” has also been expressed by high-profile figures such as Prime Minister David Cameron, a well-known critic of the Human Rights Act. The Government’s embarrassment over the decision has prompted Immigration Minister, Damian Green, to announce that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) will appeal the decision, and there have been more drastic calls from Tory MPs for the scrapping of the Human Rights Act.
In short, the changes are much wider than initially thought. The plan is not to simply ask Parliament to approve a declaration of intent on Article 8 as some suspected, but rather to ask Parliament to approve amended Immigration Rules which will set out an extensive, codified definition of the Article 8 balancing factors, in order to:
unify consideration under the rules and Article 8, by defining the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life.
The plans, which are set out from paragraph 27 of the report, are therefore more significant than I and others had been speculating, in that they will apply not just to the deportation of foreign criminals as was the focus of the press coverage and Home Secretary Theresa May’s statement to Parliament, but to the whole of immigration law. They also set out the legal reasoning as to why this is expected to bind judges, which appears to originate from an obiter comment in paragraph 17 of the 2007 House of Lords case of Huang. Continue reading →
On 1 December 2017 an event in Temple Church with the Bar Council in collaboration with Refugee Tales, an outreach project whose aim is to see the end of indefinite immigration detention, saw an announcement of new recommendations for reform of the system of immigration detention.
The Bar Council, led by Andrew Langdon QC, is making a series of recommendations in light of the report, as follows:
A 28-day time limit for administrative detention;
Automatic judicial oversight of the arrangements for holding people in administrative detention;
Adequate legal aid for advice and representation for those held in immigration detention to challenge the loss of their liberty;
A ban on the use of prisons for the purposes of administrative detention;
Special care for vulnerable people and victims of torture held in administrative detention; and
Review and clarification of the criteria for administrative detention. The relevant policy and rules need to be accessible and intelligible so that all those who are affected by the exercise of powers to detain understand the reasons for the exercise of those powers and can challenge decisions where appropriate.
New legislation significantly curtails accommodation provision for those seeking release from immigration detention. The likely result is more and more people being held in immigration detention.
The fight to end to indefinite detention of immigrants pending their removal from the UK has been gathering momentum. There have been parliamentary debates and expert reports, all critical of the Home Office policy of what effectively involves ‘warehousing’ immigrants in cramped and often unsafe conditions with no end in sight.
While there is no legal maximum for how long someone can be held in immigration detention, the Home Office can only use their power to detain if they intend to remove the person and can do so ‘within a reasonable period’. If at the outset it is apparent that the person cannot be removed within a reasonable period they should not be detained at all. If it becomes apparent once detention has commenced that the person cannot be removed within a reasonable period, then the person should also be released. In addition, the Home Office should exercise appropriate diligence in their efforts to remove the person.
Despite these well-established restrictions on the power to detain, men and women are still held in detention centres for extended periods of time. In March 2018, a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons of Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre found that 23 men had been held for over year, and one man had been held for four years.
The Upper Tribunal has concluded that new Immigration Rules do not adequately reflect the Secretary of State’s obligations under Article 8 of the ECHR.
This is the second determination of the “fit” between the immigration rules, introduced last year, and the UK’s obligations under Article 8 of the Convention. I covered the Upper Tribunal’s assessment of the rules in MF (Article 8–new rules) Nigeria  UKUT 00393 (IAC) in a previous post and it will be remembered that the Tribunal held there that the new rules fall short of all Article 8 requirements.
The claimant was a Nigerian national who had raised a claim to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as part of a claim for asylum. She had travelled to the UK previously, with periods of overstaying and having obtained employment by using false identity papers. Whist in the UK she met her husband, a dual British/Nigerian citizen and argued that her removal would interfere with her right to family life under Article 8. Continue reading →
OM (ALGERIA) v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT  EWHC 65 (Admin) – Read judgment
The claimant’s detention pending deportation was unlawful where (1) the Secretary of State had failed to take account of the guidance on immigration detention, which indicated that the mentally ill were usually unsuitable for detention and (2) the Secretary of State had failed to notify the Claimant of his right of appeal once a Court of Appeal had, in a similar case, determined such a right to exist.
The Claimant, having entered the UK illegally in 1996, had a string of criminal convictions and a Class A drug habit. Although he had claimed asylum in 1999 the whole of his claim was found by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (“AIT”) to be a fabrication. He had married and had two young children in the UK. The most significant issue, however, was his diagnosis in 2003 as suffering from schizophrenia.
Another year passes, with another series of higher court cases on human rights in the immigration context.
As in previous years, the courts in 2019 were particularly concerned with Theresa May’s attempts as Home Secretary to codify the Article 8 proportionality exercise into legislation. Those changes have had a significant impact on the approach of tribunals to appeals against deportation and removal on grounds of private and family life. Judges now have to apply a series of prescribed tests under the immigration rules, before going on to consider whether there are exceptional circumstances requiring a grant of leave.
R(New London College) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 856 (Admin) – read judgment
When she introduced the latest changes to the points-based system for allowing entry into the United Kingdom the Home Secretary Theresa May said that “this package will stop the bogus students, studying meaningless courses at fake colleges…it will restore some sanity to our student visa system” (March 22 2011) Whether these changes will alleviate any of the difficulties of applying the criteria to institutions that provide study courses for foreign nationals, only time will tell. This case illustrates some of these problems of enforcement.
Shirin Jisha v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2043 (Admin) – Read judgment
When is a human rights claim a human rights claim in an immigration context? The High Court has recently considered this question in the case of a Bangladeshi citizen who had her visa cancelled when returning from a trip abroad.
This case related to the proper meaning of section 113(1) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The Secretary of State had argued that the claimant’s claim was not a “human rights claim” because the claim was not made “at a place designated by the defendant” but served as part of her appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal against the defendant’s refusal to grant her leave to enter. It was held that the claim was a “human rights claim” within the terms of section 113(1).
SS (Congo) v Entry Clearance Officer, Nairobi,  UKSC 10 – read judgment.
The Supreme Court has ruled that, in principle, the need for spouses or civil partners in the UK to have an annual minimum income of £18,600 in order to obtain entry clearance for their non-EEA spouse/civil partner to be compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). However, the Supreme Court stated that the relevant Immigration Rules relating to such Minimum Income Requirements (“MIR”) failed to adequately take account of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when making an entry decision. Finally, the prohibition on taking into account prospective earnings of the foreign spouse or civil partner when applying the MIR was inconsistent with the evaluative exercise required under Article 8, ECHR.
This tribunal decision is the first to tackle the so-called “codification” of Article 8 considerations in immigration law (see Adam’s post on the Home Office’s proposals earlier this year).
Before the new immigration rules were introduced in July, cases involving Article 8 ECHR ordinarily required a two-stage assessment: (1) first to assess whether the decision appealed against was in accordance with the immigration rules; (2) second to assess whether the decision was contrary to the appellant’s Article 8 rights. In immigration decisions, there was no doubt that human rights were rooted in primary legislation: s.84(1)(c) and (g) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, the “2002 Act”) allows an appeal to be brought against a decision which unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42) (public authority not to act contrary to Human Rights Convention) as being incompatible with the appellant’s Convention rights. In addition to this, there is s.33(2) of the UK Borders Act 2007 which provides, as one of the statutory exceptions to the automatic deportation regime, “…where removal of the foreign criminal in pursuance of a deportation order would breach (a) a person’s Convention rights”.
But then there was a move to set out an extensive, codified definition of the Article 8 balancing factors, in order to
unify consideration under the rules and Article 8, by defining the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life. Continue reading →
(a) A claimant at the Immigration Tribunal who relies on their private (not family) life under Article 8 will be entitled to have only “little weight” placed on that private life if they have been in the UK without indefinite leave to remain, unless there are “particularly strong features of the private life in question”; and
(b) A claimant who is financially dependent on other people but not on the state should not have that fact held against them when assessing the public interest in their removal.
Whilst the result was a victory for the individual claimant in this case, the wider consequences of this decision will be to clarify and tighten the law in a way that will make it even harder than it already was for claimants to succeed on the basis of their private life in the UK.
R (on the application of Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills  EWCA Civ 1216 (31 July 2014) – read judgment
The United Kingdom was not in breach of the human rights of those individuals ineligible for student loans because they did not have indefinite leave to remain in the country. The relevant legislation limits eligibility for student loans to those who are “settled” in the United Kingdom (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 ) and who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years. According to the Court of Appeal, requiring the Secretary of State to link criteria for educational eligibility to changes in immigration rules would “enmesh” him into immigration policy:
His picking and choosing candidates for settlement as eligible for student loans, while not … unconstitutional, would be a fragile and arbitrary basis for policy in an area where clarity and certainty are required.
This appeal turned on issues in relation to the right to education under Article 2 of the first protocol (A2P1) and the prohibition of discriminatory treatment under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Court of Appeal has held that in deciding whether the removal of a person from the UK is compatible with their human rights, their value to the community can and in many cases should be taken into account.
The court ruled that when a decision-maker is undertaking the balancing exercise required to determine whether the removal of an individual from the UK is proportionate under Article 8 ECHR (right to family life), the individual’s value to the community in this country is a relevant consideration to be taken into account. However, this judgment was qualified by indications from the judges that, in practice, this factor is unlikely to carry much weight in the decision-maker’s evaluation.
AP (Trinidad & Tobago) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 551 Read Judgment
In the ongoing controversy over the deportation of foreign offenders, the Court of Appeal has decided that the Immigration Tribunal had not made a mistake of law in deciding that a foreign citizen who had lived in the UK since the age of 4 and had been convicted and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for a drugs offence, following a string of other offences, should not be deported.
The Court of Appeal also commented on the interaction between the Tribunal and appellate courts and a potential distinction between ‘foreign criminals‘ as defined by the UK Borders Act 2007 and other foreign offenders.
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