On 28 May 2021, Duncan Lewis Solicitors issued judicial review proceedings on behalf of five clients who stand to be affected by the Home Office’s New Plan for Immigration, (NPFI). The Claimants are challenging the lawfulness of the Secretary of State for the Home Department’s (SSHD) consultation on the NPFI which ran from 24 March to 6 May 2021 (the Consultation).
The Claimants contend that the way in which the Consultation was carried out indirectly discriminated against them; they all have ongoing asylum claims, some have trafficking claims and stand to be affected by many of the changes proposed in the NPFI, such as the introduction of a new temporary protection status and a stricter test for the determination of asylum claims. They wished to participate in the consultation but were unable to do so because they do not speak or read English or Welsh and the SSHD failed to take any meaningful steps to facilitate their participation.
The Claimants also contend that the SSHD breached the Public Sector Equality Duty in the design of the Consultation, by failing to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and to foster good relations.
Further, the Claimants assert that the SSHD breached the common-law requirements for a lawful Consultation: she did not give people a reasonable time-frame to respond; the information she provided was misleading and insufficient to allow proper scrutiny, or meaningful or intelligent responses; and it appears that she has already made decisions on a number of the measures which are set out as proposals, for example the new rules on inadmissibility of asylum claims.
In pre-action correspondence the SSHD confirmed that she contests the claim on all grounds.
The claim is supported by witness evidence from the Immigration Law Practitioner’s Association (ILPA), Refugee Action, and the Scottish Refugee Council, and the Consultation responses and public statements made by many other organisations.
Jeremy Bloom, Solicitor for the Claimants, said the following:
”The Home Office’s New Plan for Immigration is, by their own admission, an overhaul of the asylum system. It contains a number of deeply worrying proposals, many of which may well be in breach of the UK’s international legal obligations to asylum seekers and victims of trafficking.
“Despite the scale and the impact of the proposed changes, the Home Office gave the public only six weeks to respond to a Consultation. The information provided about the proposals was incomplete and misleading. Most importantly for the Claimants, the Home Office took no meaningful steps to ensure that people who stand to be directly affected by the changes could participate in the Consultation, which was only published in English and Welsh.
“If the Claimants are successful, the SSHD may be ordered to re-open the Consultation and to take steps to ensure that people most likely to be affected by the proposed changes are able to properly give their views on them. The Home Office would then be forced to take those views into account in any measures that they choose to implement.”
The Duncan Lewis legal team are Toufique Hossain, Jeremy Bloom, Simon Robinson, Nina Kamp, Jonah Mendelsohn, Lily Parrott and Rachael Sanders. Counsel instructed are Chris Buttler QC, Eleanor Mitchell, and Tom Gillie (Matrix Chambers).