Tag Archive | "Lady Hale"

Deport first, appeal later


This week the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s system for deporting foreign criminals before they have had a chance to appeal breaches their human rights. In a landmark case concerning two foreign national criminals, the court ruled that having to appeal from abroad denied the men an effective appeal.

‘Deport first, appeal later’ was introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014. It removes a foreign criminal’s right to appeal in the UK unless they can show a ‘real risk of serious irreversible harm’ if they are deported to their country of origin. It was designed to reduce the number of offenders fighting deportation by using human rights grounds, especially the right to a private and family life. More than 1,100 foreign criminals have been removed from Britain under the system. It was a Conservative manifesto pledge.

The ruling, handed down by the deputy president of the supreme court, Lady Hale, and four other justices, said the system breached foreign criminals’ human right to an appeal as their ability to present their case from abroad was likely to be obstructed in a number of ways.

The case involved two men convicted of drug offences who had both served prison sentences. In both cases the home secretary (then Theresa May) issued certificates that their human rights claims were “clearly unfounded” under 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. This had the effect of ensuring that they could only appeal against their deportation after they had returned to Kenya and Jamaica.

The court ruling says that the financial and legal barriers to the men giving their evidence live on screen are almost insurmountable. The justices say the MoJ’s failure to provide facilities abroad to enable them to give evidence means they have been deported without any human rights-compliant system in place that enables them to conduct their appeal.

Leading counsel for one of the appellants said the ruling would halt the use of the power in the deportation of foreign national criminals. “The supreme court’s judgment will very heavily limit, if not entirely curtail, the home secretary’s use of the controversial ‘deport first, appeal later’ power for ‘foreign criminals’ who wish to challenge deportation decisions on the basis that deportation will infringe the right to family or private life. The court has made clear its disapproval of the routine use of such a power,” he said.

Clive Coleman, BBC legal affairs correspondent, writes that “the ruling is a hammer blow to the Home Office. Appeals will have to be ‘effective’ and that will often mean that they have to be conducted with the appellant in the UK. ‘Deport first, appeal later’ is damaged.

“Since December, in what amounts to a ‘remove first, appeal later’ policy, the process for certifying removal before appeal has been extended to other cases such as those brought by people who are not convicted criminals, but have overstayed their leave to remain here.” He adds that the decision “is likely to have significant implications for both the deportation of foreign offenders and the removal of others who are in the UK unlawfully.”

For the government, Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s judgment and are carefully considering the implications.”

Saira Grant, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, welcomed the ruling and said: “The Supreme Court has accepted, as we warned from the beginning, that it is almost impossible to appeal from abroad. They have also upheld the rule of law by making it clear that the Home Secretary cannot simply avoid scrutiny by removing from the UK anybody who disagrees with her decision.“

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law UpdatesComments (0)

Legal aid residence test to be challenged


Today, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in a case challenging the government’s Legal Aid residence test.

The residence test restricts legal aid to people who are “lawfully resident” in the UK and have been for the past 12 months. The Public Law Project (PLP), which is bringing the case, says that this is outside the government’s powers and also discriminatory under human rights laws.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has argued that only those who have an established link to the UK should be entitled to legal aid, which is a scarce and costly resource that must be rationed.

Seven justices will hear arguments in a case which insists that no minister has the power to impose such discriminatory regulations and that the residence test, which has yet to be implemented, is unlawful. The supreme court had originally planned to hear the case later this year, but it has been brought forward following justice secretary Michael Gove’s indication that he planned to begin applying the residence test from this summer.

The case has already been before the courts. In 2014, the high court struck down the regulation on the grounds that the then justice secretary, Chris Grayling, did not have the power to introduce it by means of secondary legislation. It also concluded that the residence test was excessively discriminatory.

In a unanimous decision, three senior judges declared the draft regulations then before parliament could not be enacted by means of secondary legislation. They also upheld a complaint on a second ground as part of the judicial review, that it would not be legitimate to discriminate against non-residents solely on the grounds of saving money.

The judgment was a severe setback for the then justice secretary, Chris Grayling, and the way he was introducing wide-ranging changes without primary legislation.

However, last November the court of appeal overturned that judgment, concluding that the earlier ruling placed unjustifiable restraints on the government’s ability to control the legal aid budget. Exemptions to the residence test have had to be made for members of the armed forces serving overseas, children under one year old and asylum seekers.

John Halford, the solicitor at the London law firm Bindmans, which is acting for the PLP, is quoted in the ‘Guardian’ as saying: “In this country, we are rightly proud we have a legal system which, whilst not perfect, seeks to ensure that anyone can enforce important legal rights and enter the courtroom on an equal footing to their opponents….The [justice secretary’s] proposed residence test strikes at the heart of these principles by very deliberately withholding legal aid from those who overwhelmingly will not be British, yet are obliged to obey the law here and so should, equally, be protected by it. We will ask the court to make a definitive ruling that the test is repugnant to British law.”

The ‘Guardian’ also reports that the children’s commissioner for England has intervened in the litigation in support of the PLP’s appeal, as has the solicitors’ professional body, the Law Society.

The case will be decided by seven justices – Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes and Lord Toulson – because of its constitutional importance.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Legal AidComments (0)

Slippage at the MoJ – Competitive Tendering and Legal Aid reform


Last Wednesday Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke, made a written statement to the Commons on Competitive Tendering. The proposed timetable has yet again slipped back.

He told the Commons: “The Government believe that tendering criminal defence work for competition, alongside regulatory changes, has the potential to significantly modernise legal aid provision, improve the service provided to legal aid clients, streamline the procurement process and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.” In a thinly veiled threat he said: Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)


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