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The Court of Appeal recently dismissed an appeal made by the Lord Chancellor that questioned the High Court ruling relating to the process for Detained Fast Track Appeals in asylum cases. The High Court ruling that the Lord Chancellor was appealing had found that the process for these Fast Track Appeals was unlawfully unfair to those coming to the UK to seek asylum.
Following on from changes made earlier in the year that resulted in the High Court decision suspend the Fast Track for appeals, the Government had hoped to overturn the ruling in a bid to restart detaining asylum seekers. The High Court order has now been upheld, dashing the hopes of the UK Government.
The High Court order itself quashed the rules governing the procedures for Detained Fast Track asylum appeals, which have been heavily criticised for the timescales allocated to making a decision on an individual’s eligibility to seek asylum. The timescales are much shorter than that allocated in the usual appeals process and allow for asylum seekers to remain in detention centres during this timeframe.
When the High Court decision was announced at the beginning of July, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire had made clear his hopes that the suspension of the Detained Fast Track program would be short lived and quickly return to the previous process, telling Parliament he expected that the suspension would be “short in duration”. With the recent ruling that upholds the High Court order, however, this will not be the case.
Giving his judgment in the High Court, Lord Justice Dyson found that the Fast Track Rules in the case of the asylum appeals process were “systematically unfair and unjust”, and that this was expressly and primarily due to having such restricted time limits in which to make a decision. It was found that there was insufficient time for all of the merits of cases to be properly considered and, as such, the process was unfair and didn’t provide due considerations in each case, hindering justice. The High Court judgment last month came alongside a case brought forward by a number of asylum seekers, which also resulted in a ruling of unlawfulness.
As a result of the decision being upheld and the Fast Track continuing to be indefinitely suspended, asylum seekers can no longer be held in detention centres on the premise that their case may be eligible for a fast tracked verdict. Prior to the Fast Track being suspended, asylum seekers could be put into the Detained Fast Track process and placed in a detention centre if the Home Office thought their case was straightforward and could be decided with a fast turnaround. This wasn’t done solely in cases where the Home Office believed that the case was unlikely to succeed, there were also cases placed into the Fast Track system that had merit. Unfortunately, these cases were all treated in the same manner, arguably putting time saving before justice.