Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Supreme Court finds immigration detainee was falsely imprisoned

Written by
Mark Symes
Date of Publication:
31 May 2011

On 25 May 2011 the Supreme Court allowed the appeal in Kambadzi v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 23

The issue was whether the Appellant was falsely imprisoned in circumstances in which there was a statutory power to detain, but the Secretary of State had failed to exercise that power in accordance with her published policy by conducting monthly reviews. By a majority of 3:2 the Court found that the conduct of the reviews was fundamental to the propriety of continued detention. The Secretary of State’s failure to conduct monthly reviews amounted to a material public law error in the exercise of her powers. Consequently, the detention could not be lawfully justified and the tort of false imprisonment was established.

That conclusion was not affected by the fact that if reviews had been carried out the detention could (or would) have been lawfully authorised. However, an hypothesis as to what might have happened but for the errors was relevant to an assessment of damages. There would be a further inquiry as to the quantum of damages. Article 5 ECHR did not add anything to the conclusions reached at common law.

Alex Goodman acted for Mr Kambadzi at all levels, being led by Raza Husain QC in the Supreme Court. Given the sea change in the law of unlawful detention established by this decision and its predecessor a few weeks ago, Lumba, any practitioner who wants to do the best for their detained clients should attend Alex's course for HJT on 21st June on detention in order to fully understand the implications of this pair of seminal judgments.