Media By: Dominic Ruck Keene


Immigration Bail policy found systemically unfair

30 July 2020 by

In three conjoined judicial reviews concerning the legality of the Home Secretary’s exercise of her power under paragraph 9 of Schedule 10 of the Immigration Act 2016 to provide accommodation to those who are granted immigration bail, Mr Justice Johnson held in R (Humnyntskyi) v SSHD [2020] EWHC 1912 (Admin) that each of the three claimants had been unlawfully denied such accommodation, and that the relevant policy was systemically unfair.


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Lockdown challenge — permission refused

7 July 2020 by

The Government will doubtless be relieved.

Mr Justice Lewis has refused permission to bring a judicial review in what is arguably the most comprehensive and wide-reaching challenge brought to date to the legality of the lockdown Regulations and the decision to stop providing education on school premises (save for the children of key workers) in R (Dolan and Ors) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWHC 1786 (Admin).


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Dunn v FCO — the opening skirmishes

6 July 2020 by

In R (Dunn) v The Foreign Secretary and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire [2020] EWHC 1620 (Admin) the Divisional Court dismissed two applications made in anticipation of the forthcoming rolled up judicial review arising out of the death of Harry Dunn.

Harry Dunn was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car being driven on the wrong side of the road by Mrs Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a member of the administrative and technical staff of the US Embassy based at RAF Croughton. The Claimants (Harry Dunn’s parents) sought to adduce expert evidence from a retired diplomat Sir Ivor Roberts, and also made an application for specific disclosure.

The Divisional Court summarised the background to the applications as being the judicial review of:-

  1. The decision made by the Foreign Secretary that Mrs Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations;
  2. The allegedly unlawful obstruction by the Foreign Secretary of a criminal investigation by the Northamptonshire Police;
  3. The allegedly unlawful acceptance by the Northamptonshire Police of the advice of the Foreign Secretary or the Metropolitan Police that Mrs Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity;
  4. The alleged breach of the investigative duty under Article 2 ECHR as a result of the Foreign Secretary and the Northamptonshire Police’s error of law as to Mrs Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity;
  5. The allegedly unlawful ceding of sovereignty over a military base in the UK without Parliamentary consent; and
  6. The alleged suspension of the laws of the land without Parliamentary consent through affording diplomatic immunity to family members of the relevant personnel.

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Leviathan Challenged — the lockdown is compliant with human rights law (Part Two)

11 May 2020 by

At present, the lockdown continues. Image: The Guardian

Previously on this blog we published Francis Hoar’s article which argued that the Coronavirus Regulations passed by the Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic involve breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the first of two response articlesLeo Davidson argued that the Regulations do not involve any breach of human rights law, as they fall within the executive’s margin of discretion for the management of this crisis.

In this article, Dominic Ruck Keene and Henry Tufnell argue that the challengers to the legislation have not shown that the measures adopted by the Government are disproportionate in the circumstances of the pandemic.

This is a summary of a paper published here and inevitably simplifies the detailed arguments and considerations within it.  The article represents the views of the authors alone.

Note: This post involves examination of the legal provisions that accompany the restrictions on movement of individuals announced by the Government. Legal scrutiny is important but should not be taken to question the requirement to follow the Regulations.

Introduction

The inevitable has finally happened – a letter before action has been sent to the Health Secretary challenging the legality of the various restrictions that cumulatively make up the current Covid-19 lockdown within the UK through the mechanism of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (England) Regulations 2020 (as amended) (‘the Regulations‘). The letter before action builds on the opinions previously outlined by Francis Hoar both on the UK Human Rights Blog and in a previous paper concerning the compatibility of the ‘lockdown’ with the ECHR. This post seeks to develop Leo Davidson’s earlier analysis of those arguments.

Here, we make the argument that there has not been a breach of all or any of the relevant ECHR rights, namely Articles 5 (right to liberty), 8 (right to private and family life), 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion), 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and 14 (prohibition on discrimination) and by Articles 1 (protection of property) and 2 (right to an education) of Protocol 1. Further, that there is in fact no deprivation of liberty under Article 5.


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Leviathan unshackled?

10 April 2020 by

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic by governments across the world has thrown into sharp relief the fact that at a time of crisis the institutions and functions of Nation States are still the key structures responsible for the most basic duty of protecting their citizens’ lives.  In the United Kingdom, the recent weeks have seen interventions by the Government in the economy and in the freedom of movement that are commonly seen as unparalleled in the post 1945 era.
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Home Secretary may not detain on basis of invalid deportation decision

3 April 2020 by

In R (DN – Rwanda) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] UKSC 7, the Supreme Court held that the Claimant was entitled to purse a claim for unlawful detention on the basis that the decision to detain for the purposes of deportation could not be separated from the decision to deport. Accordingly, if the decision to deport was unlawful, then so inevitably was the decision to detain.

Background

The Claimant had in 2000 been granted refugee status and indefinite leave to remain on the basis of a well founded fear of persecution as a Hutu if he was returned to Rwanda. He was subsequently convicted of a number of offences, the most significant of which was assisting unlawful entry of a non-EEA national (his niece) into the UK. He was subsequently sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. 

The decision to detain

Having completed the custodial element of his sentence, the Home Secretary decided to deport him on the basis of article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention which allows the expulsion of refugees “whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country”. It was said that he had been convicted of a “particularly serious crime” and that he “constituted a danger to the community”.


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Unlawful detention deemed even less graceful

4 February 2020 by

iraq war human rights compensation civilian Camp Bassa compensation damages conflict of laws international humanitarian law

In AC (Algeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 36, the Court of Appeal gave a trenchant warning that once it ceases to be lawful to detain an individual, the ‘grace period’ allowed within which to make arrangements for release can only be a short period. Moreover, the reasons for which any such grace period is required will be be closely scrutinised by the courts.

Background

Unsurprisingly, there continue to be a very significant number of judicial review and county court claims for unlawful detention brought by current and former immigration detainees. What is perhaps more interesting is that despite the relatively well-understood law governing the lawfulness of immigration detention the precise legal limits of the Home Secretary’s power to detain for immigration purposes continue to be tested and developed.


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Sale of arms to Saudi Arabia held to be based on flawed decision-making process

28 June 2019 by

London, UK. 11th July, 2016. Human rights campaigners protest against arms sales to Saudi Arabia outside the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO), the Government department responsible for arms export promotions.

In R (Campaign Against Arms Trade) v Secretary of State for International Trade [2019] EWCA Civ 1020, the Court of Appeal upheld a challenge to the lawfulness of the grant by the UK Government of export licences for the sale or transfer of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.

The Court has overturned the decision of the Divisional Court, which was discussed on the Blog here.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade argued that there was a large body of evidence which demonstrates overwhelmingly that Saudi Arabia has committed repeated and serious breaches of international humanitarian law during the conflict in Yemen. CAAT claimed, in particular, that Saudi Arabia has committed indiscriminate or deliberate airstrikes against civilians, including airstrikes which have used “cluster” munitions, and which had targeted schools and medical facilities.

The Court of Appeal held that the decision-making process had been irrational, as it had not included an assessment as to whether there had been previous breaches of international humanitarian law in the past, without which there could not be a proper assessment of the risk of future breaches.


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No more reasonable doubt in suicide inquests

20 May 2019 by

In R (Maughan) v Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire v The Chief Coroner for England Wales [2019] EWCA Civ 809, the Court of Appeal conclusively held that the standard for proof for both short form and narrative conclusions concerning suicide was the civil balance of probabilities test, rather than the criminal beyond reasonable doubt.

The decision of the divisional court in R (Maughan) v Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire v The Chief Coroner for England Wales [2018] EWHC 1955(Admin) to the same effect marked a significant reversal of the commonly understood position that the criminal standard of proof applied – see Owain Thomas QC’s comment here.

Lord Justice Davis gave the only substantive judgment. He began by summarising that in the instant inquest concerning the death of a prisoner who had been found hanging, the Chief Coroner for Oxfordshire had followed the Chief Coroner’s Guidance No 17 and also the guidance contained within the Coroner’s Bench Book. The Coroner had accepted that the evidence on a ‘Galbraith plus’ basis was insufficient to enable a jury, properly instructed, to conclude to the criminal standard that the deceased had intended to take his own life.

However, having so ruled, the Coroner had further decided that it would not be appropriate simply to elicit an open conclusion from the jury and that they should be asked to ask a number of questions in order to elicit a narrative conclusion. In light of the way the questions were framed, the jury had for the purposes of their narrative conclusion, considered whether the deceased had intended fatally to hang himself by reference to the balance of probabilities. Their narrative conclusion included a determination that the deceased had intended to kill himself.


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Coronial Causation

18 March 2019 by

The Divisional Court in R (Chidlow) v HM Senior Coroner for Blackpool [2019] EWHC 581 has given a concise and authoritative judgment reiterating and summarising the current common law concerning causation in inquests. Given the ever increasing importance of inquests and their conclusions as preliminaries to civil litigation, as well the growing number of inquests being held into historical deaths, the judgment will doubtless be frequently cited over the coming months and years.

Mr Childlow brought the judicial review following the inquest into the death of his brother (Carl Bibby). Mr Bibby died from a cardiac arrest in circumstances where an ambulance had been called, but there were admitted delays in the ambulance attending. At the inquest, the jury heard evidence from a consultant in Critical Care & Emergency Medicine that had paramedics attended Mr Bibby before he suffered cardiac arrest, he would, on the balance of probabilities, have survived. Nevertheless, the coroner ruled that it was not safe to leave the issue of a causal link between the delay and Mr Bibby’s death to the jury. Mr Chidlow sought a declaration that the coroner acted unlawfully, an order quashing the record of inquest and an order that a fresh inquest be held before a different coroner.


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Now, a win for the Chagossians

4 March 2019 by

The International Court of Justice has given a near-unanimous opinion that the separation in 1965 of the Chagos Archipelago from the then British colony of Mauritius was contrary to the right of self determination, and that accordingly the de-colonisation of Mauritius by the United Kingdom had not been in accordance with international law. The ICJ held that Britain’s continued administration of the islands was an internationally wrongful act, which should cease as soon as possible.

This is the latest in a long series of cases concerning the Chagossian islanders, the last domestic one being Hoareau last month, which summarises decisions so far. Also see [120]-[130] of the ICJ’s opinion for the back-story.

Background

The Chagos Archipelago consists of a number of islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean. The largest island is Diego Garcia, which accounts for more than half of the archipelago’s total land area.

Mauritius is located about 2,200 km south-west of the Chagos Archipelago. Between 1814 and 1965, the islands were administered by the United Kingdom as a dependency of the colony of Mauritius. In 1964, there were discussions between America and Britain regarding the use by the United States of certain British-owned islands in the Indian Ocean, in particular in establishing an American base on Diego Garcia.


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Privacy and the peace protestor — an extended look

30 January 2019 by

Dominic Ruck Keene is a barrister at One Crown Office Row.

The European Court of Human Rights has held in Catt v The United Kingdom (43514/15))  that that the retention by UK police of information on the Domestic Extremism Database about a 90 year-old activist’s presence at political protests was a breach of his Article 8 ECHR rights. The ruling follows the Supreme Court’s contrasting judgment that such gathering and retention had been lawful and a proportionate interference with Mr Catt’s Article 8 ECHR rights.


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Who is reading your email…?

21 September 2018 by

European_Court_of_Human_Rights,_2010BIG BROTHER WATCH AND OTHERS v. THE UNITED KINGDOM

In an exhaustive and detailed judgment coming to over 200 pages, the ECtHR held that both the bulk electronic communications interception regime operated by the UK’s intelligence agencies under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and its provisions for acquiring communications data from telecommunications operators violated Articles 8 and 10 of ECHR.

However, the ECtHR held that there was no violation of Article 8 through the UK’s receipt and use of similar information obtained from other countries.

The ECtHR’s judgment is as noteworthy for what it deemed to be incompatible with the ECHR as what it deemed to be incompatible. In contrast to the tenor of many of the headlines in the media about the judgment, it was not an unreserved endorsement of the criticisms that have been levelled at the intelligence services in light of the Snowden revelations. The ECtHR’s comments as to the proportionality and necessity of the bulk collection of electronic communications, as well as about the adequacy of the safeguards and oversight structures will be of some consolation to the government.

The real issue for the Government is whether the ‘checks and balances’ in the Investigatory Powers Act (which is not yet fully in force) will be sufficient to defeat the criticisms made by the ECtHR of the previous regime under RIPA; in particular over the selection criteria for material that would be seen by human eyes and whether there are sufficient ‘journalistic’ safeguards.

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The right to die – who decides?

9 July 2018 by

nintchdbpict000310400808In R. (on the application of Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice [2018] EWCA Civ 1431 the Court of Appeal held that the blanket ban on assisted suicide in the Suicide Act 1961 s.2(1) was a necessary and proportionate interference with the ECHR art.8 rights of the appellant.

The appellant had proposed an alternative scheme for assisted suicide containing certain conditions and safeguards, including the approval of a High Court judge, for those who were terminally ill and had less than six months to live. However, it was held that the alternative scheme would not be effective and raised wide-ranging policy issues that would be better dealt with by Parliament.

The Court identified the origin of the case as being that the Claimant has a prognosis of six months or less to live and wishes to have the option of taking action to end his life peacefully and with dignity, with the assistance of a medical professional, at a time of his choosing, whilst remaining in control of the final act that may be required to bring about his death. However, Section 2(1) of the 1961 Suicide Act makes it a criminal offence to provide encouragement or assistance for a person to commit suicide.

Mr Conway therefore sought a declaration of incompatibility under section 4 of the HRA , on the basis that the ban on assisted suicide was a disproportionate interference with his right to respect for his private life under Article 8 of the Convention (“Article 8”).

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When does rehabilitation create a ‘right to be forgotten’?

20 April 2018 by

google magnifying glass.pngIn NT1 and NT2 v Google LLC, Mr Justice Warby considered whether Google should be required to ‘de-list’ links in its search results to articles about the spent historic convictions of two businessmen under what is commonly called the ‘right to be forgotten’. He held it was in the case of one claimant, but not the other.

The claimants argued that the Google search results conveyed inaccurate information about their offending. Further, they sought orders requiring details about their offending and their convictions and sentences to be removed from Google Search results, on the basis that such information was out of date; irrelevant; of no public interest; and/or otherwise an illegitimate interference with their rights. They also sought compensation for Google in continuing to return search results disclosing such details, after the claimants’ complaints were made. Google resisted both claims, maintaining that the inclusion of such details in its search results was legitimate.

Mr Justice Warby summarised the issues as “the first question is whether the record needs correcting; the second question is whether the data protection or privacy rights of these claimants extend to having shameful episodes in their personal history eliminated from Google Search; thirdly, there is the question of whether damages should be paid.”

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