HA (Nigeria), R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Rev 1) [2012] EWHC 979 (Admin)

Case No: CO/11283/2010


17 April 2012

Link to judgment

HA (Nigeria), R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Rev 1) [2012] EWHC 979 (Admin)

Discrimination grounds

Disability & race

Summary of case

The Claimant was a Nigerian national and asylum seeker who entered the United Kingdom on a visitor’s visa for six months in 2005 but overstayed. He suffered from mental health problems of sufficient severity to require his admission to a mental health hospital for compulsory treatment, but was detained for several months in ordinary immigration detention, during which his mental health deteriorated significantly.

The case also addressed a policy change made by the Secretary State in August 2010 which made it more likely that people with mental health problems would be detained in immigration detention centres.[1]

The Claimant challenged the lawfulness of decisions to continue to detain him under section 36(1)(a) of the UK Borders Act 2007  and the conditions of that detention.


The Court considered that the period of detention after the proper psychiatric assessment was unlawful. The second period of re-detention was also found unlawful.

The judge also concluded that the Claimant had suffered degrading treatment (a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights), that the detention policy on those with mental illnesseshad been unlawfully changed without a proper equality impact assessment as required by law(the equality duty) and that the policy had not been applied in the claimant’s case. Judicial review was granted.

[1] Until August 2010, the “Enforcement Instructions and Guidance” document said that “the mentally ill” were “normally considered suitable for detention in only very exceptional circumstances”. This had been interpreted by the Court to create a strong presumption in favour of release for those with a mental illness. In August 2010, the wording was revised to treat mentally ill persons as being suitable for detention unless they were suffering from an illness which could not be satisfactorily managed within detention.

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