This case concerns the unlawful detention of the Claimant who came to the UK from Nigeria. The Claimant made an asylum claim from within detention shortly after being detained on 6 August 2016. Despite being told that his claim would be dealt with ‘quickly’, there was a considerable delay in the Defendant’s processing of the Claimant’s asylum claim, and so the Claimant began judicial review proceedings which ultimately resulted in the ruling that his detention was lawful, aside from the period between 14 March and 9 June 2017. The Claimant is now requesting an appeal on this judgment to the Court of Appeal.
History of the case
When reviewing the Claimant’s detention, the Secretary of State had repeatedly said that his asylum application could be dealt with ‘quickly’ but there were significant delays in the processing of the Claimant’s asylum claim.
The Secretary of State gave the Claimant his first asylum interview on 2 November 2016 but did not finalise interviewing the Claimant until 18 January 2017. Following this interview, it transpired that a decision was made to refuse the Claimant’s asylum claim on 14 March 2017. This decision was not served on the Claimant until 9 June 2017. The Secretary of State sought to belatedly explain this delay by stating that there was an internal policy hold in making Article 8 decisions following the Supreme Court case of MM (Lebanon). However, no evidence was provided at the substantive hearing from the Secretary of State about this policy.
By the date of the substantive hearing, the Claimant had been detained for a period in excess of sixteen months. The case concerned whether the Claimant’s detention was for a reasonable period in all of the circumstances and whether the Secretary of State had acted with due diligence and expedition to effect removal.
Rhodri Price Lewis QC held that the Secretary of State had not acted with reasonable diligence and expedition to effect removal between 14 March and 9 June 2017 as ‘no valid explanation’ had been put forward for failing to serve the Claimant’s decision. On this basis, the Claimant’s detention was held to be unlawful between 14 March and 9 June 2017 as the Secretary of State had not acted with reasonable diligence and expedition during that period. The Claimant is entitled to damages for this period of unlawful detention.
The Claimant made further submissions that his risk of absconding had not been carefully assessed, that no careful assessment had been made of his risk of harm to the public and that his mental health concerns were not being met in detention. These submissions were rejected by Rhodri Price Lewis QC and, since his asylum appeal had been refused, his continued detention was therefore held to be lawful.
Duncan Lewis are currently pursuing an appeal to the Court of Appeal on these submissions and whilst this remains on-going, they were able to secure the Claimant’s release from detention on 2 March 2018 following a successful application to the First tier Tribunal for bail.
Public Law solicitor Sulaiha Ali and Public Law Trainee Solicitor Philip Armitage, both of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, instructed Counsel for the Claimant, Allan Briddock, of One Pump Court.
Sulaiha Ali is specialised in immigration and asylum law, with significant experience in unlawful detention / False imprisonment claims, trafficking and gender based violence matters, and assisting unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable clients. Sulaiha often engages in pro bono work and assists clients with Exceptional Case Funding applications for those who require legal representation for matters not covered by legal aid. For expert advice on immigration and detention matters, contact Sulaiha on 020 3114 1163 and email@example.com.
Philip Armitage has experience in unlawful detention cases and wider public interest cases which aim to improve the conditions in immigration detention centres. For support and advice on these matters, contact Philip on 020 3114 1219 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duncan Lewis Public Law Solicitors
The Duncan Lewis Public Law department is recommended in The Legal 500 2017 edition for its specialism in judicial review and Court of Appeal cases. The Public law team is well established with experience in all aspects of judicial review claimant work, including obtaining emergency orders and other interim relief to prevent breaches of human rights, pursuing actions for damages in both the County and High Court and successfully bringing judicial review matters to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
Duncan Lewis Public Law solicitors carry out both publicly and privately funded work and can be contacted on 0333 772 0409.