The Court of Appeal has just given judgment in a landmark case concerning the limits on the Home Secretary’s powers to detain unaccompanied children for immigration purposes.
In June 2016, the High Court (Sir Stephen Silber) ruled that it was unlawful for the Home Secretary to detain unaccompanied children under her immigration powers for any longer than 24 hours, and in any facility other than a “short term holding facility”, irrespective of the fact that the detaining official may have reasonably believed that the individual in question was an adult. Our news item on the High Court’s judgment can be found here.
The Court of Appeal (Davis, Underhill and Lindblom LJJ) has now unanimously dismissed the Home Secretary’s appeal from the High Court’s judgment, ruling that the relevant provisions of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 (as amended by the Immigration Act 2014) unambiguously prevented the Secretary of State from lawfully detaining the Claimant for substantially in excess of 24 hours in an adult immigration removal centre, in the circumstances where it was common ground that the Claimant was in fact a child while he was detained. Given the Home Office’s policy of detaining individuals claiming to be children on the basis that their physical appearance very strongly suggests that they are significantly older than 18, the case has potentially far-reaching consequences for the immigration detention of children in the future, a point that is reflected in the fact that the Secretary of State is seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Michael Armitage acted as a sole counsel for the successful Claimant in the High Court.
Please click here to read the judgment.