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High Court judgment provides vital guidance after finding widespread failures in asylum support system


HA & Ors finds Home Secretary breached duty to provide financial support and adequate housing to asylum seekers

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The High Court on Friday handed down the important judgment of HA & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 1876 (Admin) which found widespread failures in the operation of the asylum support system. Members of EIN can read the judgment here (non-members can read it here). 

Image credit: WikipediaThe case received press coverage this week in the Independent and the Guardian.

Leigh Day solicitors, who represented three of the claimants in the judicial review, noted: "The judgment provides vital guidance to asylum seekers and the Home Office as to the lawful processing times for determining applications for support, and for providing support."

In the judgment, Mr Justice Swift considers the Home Secretary's obligations under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and the Asylum Support Regulations 2000 to meet the essential living needs of asylum claimants.

Mr Justice Swift found that the Home Secretary had breached her duty to provide financial support and adequate housing to prevent asylum seekers from becoming destitute. The judgment also found that the Home Secretary had unlawfully withheld some payments to pregnant women and children under 3 years old.

John Crowley, an Associate Solicitor at Leigh Day, said: "The court has found in no uncertain terms that the Home Office's current system for supporting asylum seekers is unlawful. It is unacceptable that my clients, and so many others like them, had to go months and months without any form of support, forcing them into desperate and horrifying situations. It cannot be right that people legitimately seeking asylum are made to suffer such degrading treatment."

The Home Office will now need to make changes to the asylum support system.

Deighton Pierce Glynn (DPG) solicitors represented two of the claimants in the case. DPG said in a press release on Friday that the judgment requires the Home Office to now make additional weekly payments to pregnant women and for children under 3 years old of £3 and £5 respectively to meet their additional nutritional needs.

DPG noted: "Two DPG clients … challenged the Home Office's refusal to make these payments while they were living in hotel accommodation. The Home Office's defence was that the hotels met their additional nutritional needs, despite multiple reports detailing the extremely poor provisions in hotels … In a ruling which will impact thousands of families, the High Court Judge today (21 July 2023) held that the Home Office was required by law to make these payments."

DPG said the judgment is "a victory for basic dignity and fundamental rights" for asylum seekers in hotels.

Landmark Chambers has a helpful summary of the judgment here.

Alex Goodman KC and Natasha Jackson of Landmark Chambers were instructed in the case by Leigh Day. Zoe Leventhal KC of Matrix Chambers and Ben Amunwa of The 36 Group were instructed by DPG.