High Court hears landmark challenge to the EU Settlement Scheme

01 Nov 2022
Headshots of Robert Palmer QC and Cliodhna Kelleher

The High Court has today commenced hearing R(IMA) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, a judicial review of the Home Office’s implementation of the UK’s obligations to EU citizens and EEA nationals under the Withdrawal Agreement and EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement.

Robert Palmer KC and Clíodhna Kelleher appear for the claimant, the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (“IMA”) – the post-Brexit watchdog for the rights of EU citizens and EEA-EFTA nationals. This case marks the first occasion on which the IMA has launched legal proceedings on behalf of EU/EEA citizens and their family members under the Agreements.

The case concerns the requirement under the EU Settlement Scheme that EU citizens who have lived in the UK for less than five years and so have been granted “pre-settled status” must apply for “settled status” or re-apply for pre-settled status before their current pre-settled status expires. If they do not apply in time, they will automatically lose rights to work, access housing, education and claim benefits and be liable to detention and removal from the UK.

The IMA’s position is that the Agreements provide for a loss of rights in very limited circumstances, and that the failure to make a second application for status is not one of them.

The European Commission was granted permission to intervene by way of oral submissions, in support of the IMA’s position, in addition to its right to provide written observations under Article 162 of the Withdrawal Agreement. The IMA’s interpretation of the Agreements is further supported by the intervention of the3million, a campaigning group focused on the rights of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK.

The hearing continues on 2 November 2022.

This case is being reported in the press: The Guardian, Reuters and Financial Times.