Immigration Law – High Court Case Highlights Risk of Unlawful Detention


Delays that occur within the UK’s immigration system can come at a human cost, as demonstrated by a recent High Court case which underlined the importance of consulting expert immigration lawyers.

The claimant, a Nigerian national, had come to the attention of authorities in 2006 after being arrested at Stansted Airport, attempting to fly to Ireland on a counterfeit passport using a false name.

Having been given notice of potential deportation, he was lawfully detained for a period in October 2006, before being released on bail subject to reporting conditions and in anticipation of his removal to Nigeria. At this point, facing imminent deportation, he absconded. Throughout this period he was known to the Home Office by the name on his counterfeit passport.

He resurfaced in 2013, having built a life in the UK, and applied to revoke the deportation order that applied to his false name – thus disclosing his true identity to the Home Office.

The revocation was denied and in 2016, following a raft of appeals, a new deportation date was set and the man was taken into detention. He then lodged a last-minute asylum application and a series of detention reviews followed, with the man detained throughout.

Legal proceedings were launched on his behalf claiming damages for false imprisonment, unlawful detention and personal injury following his detention between 4 May and 2 November 2016, a period of 182 days. The man claimed that, while in detention, he experienced verbal and racial abuse, was treated like an animal and felt cut off and fearful.

Considering his claim, the Court meticulously reviewed each detention period, emphasizing the need for reasonable diligence in handling the asylum claim. While the initial detention was found lawful, the subsequent period – post 3 September 2016 – was declared unlawful due to the failure to expedite the asylum claim assessment and the absence of imminent deportation.

The man was awarded compensatory damages of £20,000 for the 60-day period of unlawful detention. The award reflected the conditions in which he was unlawfully detained. However, the judge found no evidence to support a personal injury claim.

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