In a judgment handed down on 8 June 2020 by Mr Justice Fordham, the High Court acknowledged ‘special difficulties’ caused by Covid-19 but found it was ‘necessary and proportionate’ to order the Home Office source accommodation and facilitate release from detention within four days.
Our client, the Claimant in this case, was detained under immigration powers in December 2019. On 7 April 2020, he was granted bail in principle subject to accommodation being sourced by the Defendant. On 29 May 2020, he was granted accommodation pursuant to section 95 of the 1999 Act. The Defendant made requests for accommodation to Serco on 3, 4 and 5 June 2020 - to no avail.
On 8 June 2020, the matter came before Mr Justice Fordham of the High Court who ordered the Defendant release our client to accommodation provided by her no later than 4pm on 12 June 2020. On 11 June 2020, the Defendant requested our client’s consent to vary the order to allow until 4pm on 17 June 2020 to source accommodation and arrange his release. Our client agreed. On 17 June 2020, our client was released to section 95 accommodation.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Fordham held that ‘the time has come where it is both justified and necessary that there be a court order, and that the order should specify a tight time-frame during which all arrangements must now be made to secure the claimant's release.’
Mr Justice Fordham found support for the ‘tight-timeframe’ for compliance in the recent Court of Appeal decision in AC (Algeria)  EWCA Civ 36 where two weeks was described as ‘ample’ time to cover arrangements.
Crucially, Mr Justice Fordham confirmed that he was ‘well aware of…the current Covid-19 pandemic and the special difficulties to which that is giving rise’ but held that in any event ‘it is necessary and proportionate and in the interests of justice that I now make the order that provides the timeframe and deadline’ for release.
The Claimant was represented by Emma Dawson and Lewis Kett of Duncan Lewis Solicitors’ public law department, instructing Greg Ó Ceallaigh of Garden Court Chambers.