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.
Mental health and access to justice: what reasonable adjustments should be made? (Jade Anderson v Turning Point Eepro)
A woman had mental health issues while she in the process of bringing a claim for sex discrimination. Her claim was successful, but she felt that her compensation was insufficient. She took her case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), and then to the Court of Appeal. She argued that the Employment Tribunal’s failure to make adjustments for her disability had caused the case to be badly handled, so that she received inadequate compensation. Her appeals to the EAT and to the Court of Appeal were unsuccessful.
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.
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).
Preventing estate agents using ‘No DSS’ policies to discriminate against renters (J v X Estate Agents)
A female disabled renter successfully challenged an estate agent’s ‘No DSS’ policy on grounds it indirectly discriminated against her because of her sex and disability. Women and disabled people are more likely to be in receipt of housing benefit than men and non-disabled people, and as a result of the policy, blocked from renting many properties.
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.
We funded a case challenging the Secretary of State for Justice’s decision to make PAVA spray available in prisons during the coronavirus pandemic, before agreed safeguards were in place. As a result of the action, the use of PAVA will be more tightly controlled and monitored. This should help prevent disproportionate use against prisoners sharing particular protected characteristics and improve scrutiny and accountability.