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Duncan Lewis wins unlawful detention claim on behalf of client with mental health problems in R (oao) Chernor Dede Bah –v- The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 2942 (Admin) (5 November 2018)

Date: 05/11/2018
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Duncan Lewis wins unlawful detention claim on behalf of client with mental health problems in R (oao) Chernor Dede Bah –v- The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 2942 (Admin)


On 27 December 2017, Mr. Bah was referred to Duncan Lewis by Medical Justice, with preliminary medical evidence suggesting that he may have been unable to adequately ventilate his protection claim in the United Kingdom due to severe mental illness. Despite that, he was to be removed to Sierra Leone on 29 December 2017.

On 28 December 2017, Duncan Lewis obtained injunctive relief against Mr. Bah’s removal, in addition to applying on Mr. Bah’s behalf for permission to appeal against the decision to dismiss his protection claim. This was subsequently granted, albeit out of time.

Throughout January 2018, Duncan Lewis challenged the lawfulness of Mr. Bah’s continued detention. The Defendant was presented with independent medical evidence confirming that Mr. Bah had a psychotic disorder and complex PTSD, with a conclusion that detention had already caused his conditions to deteriorate. Despite this, the Defendant attempted to justify detention throughout the course of these proceedings. As such, the substantive hearing in this claim was expedited by the Administrative Court. In expediting this claim, Deputy High Court Judge Jonathan Swift QC stated that there was “a serious issue to be tried”.

The Defendant belatedly released Mr. Bah the day before the substantive hearing in this case, which took place before Deputy High Court Judge Andrew Thomas QC on 2 March 2018. Mr. Bah remained in immigration detention for 23 months in total.



Judgment was handed down on 2 November 2018. The Defendant conceded during the course of this litigation that the failure to conduct an initial medical examination pursuant to Rule 34 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 (within the first 24 hours of admission to an immigration removal centre) was unlawful. Consequently, the Court held that Mr. Bah’s detention for the following four weeks was unlawful.

Mr. Bah had committed serious crimes and was a high risk offender. His administrative detention in numerous immigration removal centres, and two prisons, became unjustified when his mental health deteriorated breaching both the Hardial Singh principles and the Adults at Risk policy. He received substantive damages for 35 days unlawful detention.

In his reasoning, the Judge confirms that “the decision in January 2018 to continue to detain the Claimant in light of the revised medical evidence and also the delay to the Claimant’s removal was unjustified…the Defendant was focused on looking for reasons not to release the Claimant rather than a clear application of the AAR policy in light of the new evidence.”

The Claimant’s solicitor, Sheroy Zaq of Duncan Lewis, states the following:

“During December of 2017, Mr. Bah was 24 hours away from being sent back to Sierra Leone. Almost one year on, he has been told by an immigration tribunal that the dismissal of his asylum appeal was arguably unlawful, in addition to being told that the Home Secretary unlawfully deprived him of his liberty. One cannot help but think about the amount of individuals that are illegitimately detained and subsequently returned to their persecutors as a result of not being provided with publicly funded legal representation when they needed it the most.”

Legal Team

Mr. Bah was represented by Sheroy Zaq, Rebecca Carr and Kate Macpherson of Duncan Lewis. Hugh Southey QC of Matrix Chambers and Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers acted as counsel.

Please contact Sheroy Zaq on 0203 114 1166 or sheroyz@duncanlewis.com for further information.

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