Court of Appeal quashes policy of removing migrants from the UK without access to justice

On 21st October 2020, the Court of Appeal decided unanimously to quash the Judicial Review and Injunctions (JRI) policy which enabled the forcible removal of a migrant from the UK within hours, often without access to justice. Over 40,000 removals were affected by this decision, with some recognised as having been removed unlawfully, returned to the UK and granted leave to remain. The policy had included “removal windows” whereby as little as 72 hours’ notice is given that you may be removed from the UK, without warning, at some point over the subsequent 3 months.

Trust grantee Medical Justice, legally represented by Trust grantee Public Law Project, carried out a judicial review in 2010 of the Home Office’s policy of providing less than 72 hours’ notice, or none at all, to certain individuals. The High Court Judgment, later upheld by the Court of Appeal, quashed that policy as an unconstitutional abrogation of the right of access to the court. Since then, Medical Justice and the Public Law Project have monitored the Home Office’s removal policies, with the Public Law Project intervening in a judicial review brought in the Upper Tribunal of the Home Office’s ‘removal window’ policy in 2018. Following that judgment, the policy was amended. Medical Justice, again represented by Public Law Project, then brought a challenge in 2019 to the amended policy in the High Court. Their claim was initially unsuccessful but in October 2020, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal, holding that the policy created an unacceptable risk of breaches of the constitutional right of access to justice.

A Medical Justice spokesperson said:

“One of our society’s most precious treasures is access to justice. Chillingly, away from the public gaze, this policy denied that fundamental right on a massive scale causing serious harm to extremely vulnerable people and risking life. It was effectively a shortcut to removal. Quashing the policy brings us back towards equal access to justice for all.

“Many of our sick clients were subject to “removal windows” – we didn’t know if they would still be in the UK from one day to the next. Clients we have managed to remain in contact with have described terrible consequences. Others have not been heard of again.

“Cases where people are removed from the UK without access to legal representation are particularly concerning as they are unlikely to be known about by any independent organisation, making it difficult to know the true extent of the policy’s impact. Some cases only came to light when removals had been aborted by chance.”

Read more here.

Return to grantee stories