On 21 October 2020, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in R(FB) and (Medical Justice) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1338. It allowed Medical Justice’s appeal and found that the Home Office’s ‘no-notice’ removals policy, a policy under which around 40,000 removals had been effected between 2015 and March 2019, was ultra vires because it gave rise to ‘an unacceptable risk of interference with the right of access to court by exposing a category of irregular migrants, including those who have claims on article 2 and/or article 3 human rights and protection grounds, to the risk of removal without any proper opportunity to challenge a relevant decision in a court or tribunal.’ In so doing the Court (the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Lord Justice Coulson) made a series of important statements about the right of access to justice. The Court stated that the right to access the court is:
- “not restricted to a right…to pursue a good claim: it is a right to bring any claim or application, no matter how abusive or even repellent it might be” (§102)
- “an absolute and inviolable right . . . not a relative right to be balanced against other rights and interests” (§117).
The full judgment as well as a press summary, produced by the court, can be found here.
Charlotte Kilroy QC, instructed by Public Law Project, represented Medical Justice.