Immigration rules: extending domestic violence protection to refugees (R (A) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
The wife of a refugee was granted temporary leave to remain in the UK. When domestic violence forced her to leave her husband, immigration rules meant she was no longer eligible for indefinite leave to remain. Had her partner been a British citizen or had settled immigration status, she would still be eligible for indefinite leave to remain under the Home Office’s domestic violence concession. However, the concession did not apply to partners of refugees. The woman unsuccessfully challenged the rules in the Court of Session (Outer House), and brought an appeal to the Court of Session (Inner House).
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.
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.
Bedroom tax: under what circumstances is a spare room justifiable? (R (Daly and others) (formerly known as MA and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Housing benefit regulations reduce the amount of benefit available to people who have a spare bedroom. Seven people who had lost some of their benefit challenged the Department for Work and Pensions in the Supreme Court.
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.
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.
Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited, owner of Pontins, signed a legally binding agreement with us to prevent racial discrimination after we became aware of discriminatory practices, including an ‘undesirable guest list’, being used by the organisation.
Helping disabled tenants to make reasonable adjustments to their homes (Andrew Smailes, Stacey Poyner-Smailes and Clewer Court Residents Ltd )
A disabled woman needed to make reasonable adjustments to her home, but because she was renting, they were refused by the landlord. We successfully funded this case to clarify whether a term in the lease prohibiting alterations is contrary to the Equality Act.
Challenging mass surveillance and protecting people’s right to privacy (Big Brother Watch and Others v UK )
Since 2013, Big Brother Watch and other human rights organisations have been challenging the compatibility of the UK’s bulk intelligence gathering and international intelligence sharing regimes with the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). We intervened with the European Network for National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), to flag the importance of safeguards in the context of mass surveillance by governments.