Protecting children seeking asylum from being detained based on appearance (BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
A person seeking asylum arrived in the UK at the age of 16. Officials thought he looked over 18 and he was held in immigration detention. He was later found to have told the truth about his age. The Home Office’s own rules say that unaccompanied children should not be detained. The person seeking asylum unsuccessfully challenged this in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), and again in the Upper Tribunal. He then appealed the UT’s decision in the Court of Appeal. We intervened in the Court of Appeal to challenge guidance from the Home Secretary which said that people seeking asylum who look over 18 can be treated as adults.
Hillingdon Council’s housing rules said that a person must have lived in the area for at least ten years before they could apply for a house. The council refused two people, a refugee who had been given permission to stay in the UK and an Irish Traveller, on these grounds. We saw this as discriminatory and we intervened in their cases in the Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal.
Challenging the ‘two-child limit’ rule (R (on the application of SC and CB and their children) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 provides that child tax credit and its replacement universal credit will not be payable to any 3rd or subsequent children in a family born after 6th April 2017 (subject to some exceptions). This is known as the ‘two child rule’.
SC and CB each had a baby after 6th April 2017 and do not receive any tax credits for those children.
Immigration status and the right to rent a property (R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
As part of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ towards those without leave to remain in the UK, the Immigration Act 2014 prevents landlords from renting property to people who do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK. A body representing the interests of immigrants challenged this, arguing that the law breached both equality and human rights legislation because it causes landlords to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their nationality and/or their race. This may happen, for example, because landlords think they do not look or sound British, even if they are not disqualified from renting.
A severely disabled man had his care package cut by the local council. It meant that he would lose a team of carers who had been supporting him to live independently for 20 years. We intervened to support his legal challenge that the decision broke equality and human rights laws and breached the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Home repossession: what reasonable adjustments should mortgage providers make? (Green v Southern Pacific Mortgage Ltd )
A woman who became unable to work because she was depressed asked her mortgage provider to transfer her from a repayment mortgage to an interest-only plan. This would have reduced her monthly payments sufficiently that her housing benefit would cover it. The mortgage company refused. She challenged their decision, arguing that they had discriminated against her by refusing to make reasonable adjustments on the grounds of her depression.
A woman who was homeless had a range of serious mental health problems applied to the council to be housed. The council determined that she did not have the mental capacity to apply as homeless. She challenged this through the courts. The County Court had said it was bound by the outcome of an earlier case which found that people who lack capacity cannot make homeless applications.
A man with mental health conditions attempted to appeal the outcome of an unsuccessful Employment Tribunal case. He missed the deadline by one hour and his appeal was refused by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). He took his case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the EAT had discriminated against him.
Challenging the Home Office’s Removal Notice Window (RNW) policy (R ((1) FB & (2) Medical Justice) v SSHD)
We intervened in a challenge regarding a Home Office policy, which gave people sometimes as little as 72 hours’ notice before they can be deported from the UK without further warning. The policy was ruled to be unlawful by the courts.
Highlighting the lack of interim relief available to discrimination claimants (Steer v Stormsure Ltd)
A woman alleged that she was sexually harassed by her colleague and victimised by her employer when she complained about it. She resigned from her employment, claiming that she had been constructively dismissed as a result of her employer’s actions and applied for interim relief, which was rejected. We were involved in the subsequent appeals in order to highlight the lack of interim relief available to discrimination claimants and the problems associated with this.