27 Feb 2017, 11 mins ago

A High Court ruling has found that the Detained Fast-Track procedures in place between 2005-2014 were unlawful and ultra vires.

The Detained Fast-Track (‘DFT’) procedure was introduced in 2000 to deal with unprecedented numbers of asylum claims at the time. In 2003 the scope of the rules expanded and allowed the Home Office to detain those seeking asylum ‘from the start of their claim through to the determination of their appeals and then to removal, all within a very limited timescale.’ (The Migrants Law Project) Those placed in detention often had very limited access to legal representation and due to an ineffective screening for vulnerable individuals; some were at risk of re-traumatisation by the detention. 

‘In 2013, over 2,500 individuals were detained in the DFT and 99% of the applicants had their applications refused by the Home Office.’ 

DFT was suspended in July 2015 after the Court of Appeal found in favour of Detention Action, that the 2005 rules were ultra vires with Lord Dyson noting ‘…the time limits are so tight are so tight as to make it impossible for there to be a fair hearing of appeals in a significant number of cases. The system is therefore structurally unfair and unjust.’

In the recent case of TN (Vietnam) & US (Pakistan), R (On the Applications Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor [2017] EWHC 59 (Admin) Mr Judge Ouseley found that the 2014 rules were not materially different from the previous rules and could therefore not be distinguished from the 2005 FTR. 

The implications of this ruling mean that any decision made under the DFT rules was potentially unlawful. A legal victory perhaps, but the ruling will be little consolation to those deported from what they thought would be a safe haven, to the countries they were trying to flee.