R (Saadi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLORD PHILLIPS MR,Mr Justice Collins
Judgment Date22 October 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] EWCA Civ 1512
Docket NumberCase No: C2001/2021
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Date22 October 2001

[2001] EWCA Civ 1512

[2001] EWHC Admin 670





The Hon Mr Justice Collins

Royal Courts of Justice


London, WC2A 2LL



Royal Courts of Justice


London, WC2A 2LL


Lord Phillips Mr

Lord Justice Schiemann and

Lord Justice Waller


The Hon Mr Justice COLLINS

Case No: C2001/2021

Case No: CO/0074/01



The Queen on the Application of:

Shayan Baram Saadi Zhenar Fazi Maged Dilshad Hassan Osmanrizgan Mohammed
Rizgan Mohammed
Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Queen on the Application of:

Shayan Baram SAADI
Zhenar Fazi MAGED
Dilshad Hassan OSMAN &Rizgan MOHAMMED
Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Attorney General (Lord Goldsmith, QC), David Pannick, QC and Michael Fordham (instructed by Treasury Solicitor for the Appellant)

Rick Scannell and Duran Seddon (instructed by Wilson & Co for the Respondents)

Mr Rick SCANNELL & Mr Duran SEDDON (instructed by Wilson & Co. for the Claimants)

Mr David PANNICK Q.C. (Mr Neil Garnham QC for the Judgment) & Mr Michael FORDHAM (instructed byThe Treasury Solicitor for the Secretary of State)


(This Summary forms no part of the judgment of the Court)

The Home Secretary's policy of providing a facility at Oakington for the detention of certain asylum seekers whose claims can be processed within about 7 days and the detention of such asylum seekers for that short period, is lawful, both under the proper construction of the Immigration Act 1971 without regard to the effect of the incorporation of the Convention on Human Rights and under the Convention as incorporated by the Human Rights Act 1998.


This is the judgment of the Court.


On 7 September Collins J., sitting in the Administrative Court, gave judgment in favour of four Kurds who had come to this country to seek asylum. They had been detained for a period not exceeding ten days in Oakington Reception Centre. Collins J. held that this detention was unlawful because it violated the right to liberty enshrined in Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights ('the Human Rights Convention'). If he is correct a cornerstone of the Government's current procedure for processing applications for asylum is removed. The Secretary of State appeals against that decision. The appeal raises an issue of principle of importance not only in this jurisdiction, but in other States who are signatories to the Human Rights Convention and who are having to cope with an unprecedented flood of asylum seekers. We have allowed to intervene, by way of a joint written submission, Liberty, Justice and the Aire Centre.


Collins J's judgment has yet to be reported in an official law report. We annexe it to this judgment. It sets out the background facts with admirable clarity and relieves us of the need to attempt to duplicate that exercise.


Over recent years applications for asylum to this and other countries have been escalating. Here the average monthly number of applications from July to September 1999 was nearly 7,000. This was 60% higher than the figure for the previous year. This appeal involves claimants from Iraq. In relation to that country, claims in 1997 averaged 90 per month, in 1998 110 per month, in 1999 150 per month and, in the first months of 2000, 280 per month. There are a number of reasons for this. Internal conflicts carrying with them well-founded fears of persecution for minorities are unhappily prevalent in a number of states. At the same time conflicts between states, harsh treatment falling short of persecution, and the marked disparity in living conditions, standards of living and social benefits in different countries have led many to seek to emigrate as refugees when their plight, though often miserable, is not such as to entitle them to refugee status.


Coping with the huge number of asylum seekers poses heavy administrative problems. It is desirable that those who are entitled to asylum should have their status recognised as quickly as possible, so that they can enjoy the benefits that we accord to refugees. It is current Government policy that those who are not entitled to asylum should be removed, unless there are special circumstances which make it appropriate to grant them exceptional leave to remain. Again it is desirable that the status of these be determined as quickly as possible. To this end the Government has sought to introduce a fast track procedure which involves the detention of some applicants for a period of about a week in order to ensure speedy and efficient processing of their applications. It is the legality of that procedure which is in issue. The respondents contend that it is contrary to our domestic law, as it was before the Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated the Human Rights Convention. They further contend that it violates the Convention. Collins J. rejected the former submission but upheld the latter. Both are advanced before us.


It is artificial, but convenient, to consider English domestic law and the Human Rights Convention separately. Collins J. adopted that course, and we propose to do the same. We shall start, as did he, with domestic law. The power of the executive to detain immigrants has long been governed by statute. At the time that both the Human Rights Convention and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees ('the Refugee Convention') were agreed, the detention of aliens was governed by the Aliens Order 1920, made under the Aliens Restriction Acts 1914 and 1919. Aliens landing without leave were liable to be detained until removed see Halsbury's Laws 3 rd Ed. Paragraph 992. These statutory provisions were replaced by the Immigration Act 1971. Collins J. has set out at paragraph 2 of his judgment the provisions of that Act which authorise detention of a person pending a decision to give or refuse him leave to enter, or alternatively the grant of temporary admission. The power to grant temporary admission only exists in relation to a person who is liable to be detained. Thus, as a matter of statutory interpretation the power to detain persists up to the time that the decision to grant or refuse leave to enter is taken.


As an alternative to temporary admission, bail may be granted to a person detained. The application for bail is made to an immigration officer or adjudicator, and the grant of bail is an administrative, not judicial act. Bail cannot be granted to a person detained pending examination unless seven days have elapsed since the arrival of that person in the United Kingdom.


Having regard to the statutory provisions considered above, there can be no doubt that the detention of the respondents at Oakington for a maximum of ten days fell within the express statutory powers of the immigration officers. That is not, of course, the end of the matter. Express statutory powers can be limited by implication. The lawful exercise of those powers can also be restricted, according to established principles of public law, by government policy and the legitimate expectation to which such policy gives rise. The issue in relation to domestic law is whether the detention of the respondents infringed any such implicit restriction.


The power to detain conferred by Paragraph 16(1) of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act is expressed to be "pending his examination and pending a decision to give or refuse him leave to enter". Read literally, the only limit on the power is a temporal one. It persists until the decision is taken to give or refuse leave to enter.


For the respondents, Mr Scannell argued that the purpose for which the power was given was the conduct of the examination of the asylum seeker. He further argued that detention was only authorised inasmuch as it was necessary to achieve that purpose. Where an applicant was prepared voluntarily to submit to examination there was no necessity and thus no power to detain. Detention would be justified where, for instance, there were reasonable grounds for apprehending that the applicant might abscond.


Collins J. did not accept this argument. He held that the purpose was clearly set out in paragraph 16(1), and that, in particular, paragraph 16(1) enabled a person to be detained 'pending a decision to give or refuse him leave to enter'. We agree. The wording of the paragraph is clear. It empowers detention not for the purpose of examination or for the purpose of deciding whether to give or refuse leave to enter, but 'pending' those events. The purpose of the power to detain is simply to prevent a person entering without leave.


Mr Scannell argued that this could be achieved by the grant of temporary admission. Under section 11 of the 1971 Act, temporary admission is deemed not to constitute entry. Mr Scannell submitted that where there was no risk that an applicant would not co-operate with the immigration authorities, he could not properly be detained but had to be granted temporary admission.


As a matter of statutory interpretation, this contention is manifestly unsound. It amounts to contending that there is no power to detain where temporary admission can be granted. Yet the power to grant temporary admission only exists in relation to a person who is 'liable to be detained'.


It does not follow that there is no implied limitation on the...

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1 books & journal articles
  • Keeping control of terrorists without losing control of constitutionalism.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 59 No. 5, March 2007
    • 1 Marzo 2007
    ...Centre, [1997] A.C. 97 (P.C.) (appeal taken from Court of Appeal of Hong Kong); R (Saadi) v. Sec'y of State for the Home Dep't, [2001] EWCA (Civ) 1512, [2001] 4 All E.R. 961. But see R (Q) v. Sec'y of State for the Home Dep't, [2006] EWHC (Admin) 2690; Saadi v. United Kingdom, App. No. 1322......

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