Legal Aid Arrangements for Immigration Detainees in Prisons Unlawful

London: In a landmark judgement of the High Court, Mr Justice Swift declared that the arrangements for immigration detainees held in prisons to access immigration and asylum legal aid are unlawful. The Claimant, represented by Duncan Lewis Solicitors, was detained in prison and was unable to access a legal aid lawyer for nine and a half months. In that time he represented himself in his asylum claim with dire consequences and was unable to successfully challenge the lawfulness of his detention.

He challenged the legal aid arrangements for immigration detainees held in prisons on the basis that they are less favourable than the arrangements in place for those held in immigration removal centres (IRCs). Individuals detained in an IRC have access to an advice surgery that guarantees access to 30 minutes’ legal advice regardless of means or merit. Those detained under immigration powers in a prison do not. Bail for Immigration Detainees made a powerful intervention in the claim. Mr Justice Swift held that immigration detainees in prisons are less well placed to access legal advice in IRCs, and that the Lord Chancellor had failed to justify the difference in treatment of these two groups. He declared that the Lord Chancellor had breached the Claimant’s right not to be discriminated against under article 14 ECHR, read with articles 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8.

Read more: Duncan Lewis,

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