Supreme Court unanimously rules that the Home Office cannot impose bail on someone who it cannot lawfully detain

The Supreme Court has handed down a unanimous judgment today in the case of R (B) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, finding that the Secretary of State does not have the power to impose bail under the Immigration Act 1971 on a person who cannot be lawfully detained.

In its appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal, the Secretary of State argued that individuals could be subject to bail conditions in circumstances where detention was unlawful, such as in the case of B. This argument was rejected by the Supreme Court, which emphasised that the power of bail and the imposition of bail conditions, like the power to detain, must be narrowly interpreted. 

Lord Lloyd-Jones JSC emphasised in the judgment that it is a fundamental tenet of the common law that Parliament cannot interfere with an individual’s liberty unless the intention to do so is clear from the statute. 

The misuse of powers in matters of bail and detention is of particular concern for Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) which acted as Intervener in the case. Celia Clarke, BID’s Director commented: 

 "BID is delighted that the Supreme Court has confirmed that the Government cannot impose bail conditions on individuals whom it has no right to detain.  Bail conditions can constitute a severe constraint on a person’s liberty and are not a ‘soft option’.  We are pleased that the court has found that bail conditions can only be imposed where there is a clear legal basis for doing so.”

BID’s legal team, who acted on a pro bono basis, were Michael Fordham QC of Blackstone Chambers, Laura Dubinsky of Doughty Street Chambers, and Andrew Denny, Elizabeth Staves, Lucy Judge and Emily Davies of Allen & Overy LLP.  

The full text of the judgment is available here

Categories: Access to Justice, BID in the Media, Commentary, Judgments
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