Detained fast track appeal system ruled unlawful - Refugee Council
June 12, 2015

Detained fast track appeal system ruled unlawful

A High Court Judge has ruled the detained fast track appeals process unlawful.

The judgment came as part of a long running legal challenge by charity Detention Action on the lawfulness of the whole detained fast track system.

Currently, asylum seekers within the detained fast track system also have their appeals fast tracked which gives them little time to prepare and little hope of succeeding.

The vast majority of cases in the detained fast track result in the asylum claim being refused. In 2013, out of 2,952 cases where a decision was made, only 131 people were granted refugee status, and 7 were granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain.

Success rates at appeal were also low. In 2013, of 1,764 appeals determined, only around 11% were allowed, compared to a general success rate of 25% for all asylum appeals.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Nicol said the system was “structurally unfair”, adding:

“It is that by allowing one party to the appeal to put the other at serious procedural disadvantage without sufficient judicial supervision, the Rules are not securing that justice be done or that the tribunal system is fair.”

Justice Nicol said it looked uncomfortably like “sacrificing fairness on the altar of speed and convenience”.

Shockingly, despite ruling that the system must be quashed, the Judge put a ‘stay’ on his orders, meaning that the system will continue while the Government is given a chance to appeal the court’s decision.

Alarmingly, this means that the current system is still operational: leaving asylum seekers trapped in a procedure which has been ruled unlawful.

Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said:

“Today the courts have recognised the detained fast track appeals system for what it is: fundamentally unfair and a grotesque caricature of British justice.

“This is an important step forward in the battle to stop Government officials arbitrarily and shamefully imprisoning some of the world’s most desperate people who have simply asked for our protection.” 

Read the full judgment here.