Home > Areas of law > Civil liberties and human rights > Immigration detention civil claims

Immigration detention civil claims

Garden Court Chambers is the only top-ranked set for immigration law in Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500, where our barristers are also highly ranked for their expertise in civil liberties and human rights.


When our clients are unlawfully detained, we are committed to securing their release. We have a reputation for obtaining substantial compensation in the most difficult cases and for being at the cutting edge of immigration detention law.

Our expertise

Our team draws on its considerable expertise across immigration, civil actions against public authorities and public law. We have significant experience of pursuing civil damages claims on behalf of individuals held in immigration detention. This includes claims for false imprisonment, breaches of their human rights and other actions related to their treatment in detention.

We have been at the forefront of many leading cases over the past two decades, making significant contributions to establishing limits to the lawful use of immigration detention in respect of vulnerable people: victims of torture and serious ill-treatment; those who suffer from mental impairment or ill-health; children; pregnant women; victims of trafficking and modern slavery, as well as those who have suffered gender-based violence.

We work closely with non-governmental organisations and solicitors to bring litigation strategically and on an individual basis to call to account the way immigration detention powers are exercised.

Since aspects of the detention estate have been outsourced to different statutory agencies, we have inevitably built up expertise in bringing damages claims against multiple defendants.

Our barristers are committed to achieving an outcome in the best interests of clients whether it be through the courts or via formal and informal means of mediation and alternative dispute resolution.

Given some of the very real difficulties in obtaining public funding, we do our best to provide flexible fee arrangements, including Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) where appropriate.

Garden Court Chambers won Human Rights and Public Law Set of the Year at the Chambers and Partners UK Bar Awards 2016.

What others say

“Garden Court Chambers boasts an impressive selection of silks and juniors offering broad-ranging expertise in the field of civil liberties and human rights.”
Chambers UK Bar Guide

“The set is renowned for its experience in human rights, particularly cases involving immigration.
Legal 500

The set is notable for its comprehensive expertise across areas including national security, trafficking, detention, [and] migrant welfare.”
Legal 500

Notable cases

A selection of our notable cases:

R (on the application of BA (Eritrea)) v SSHD : R (on the application of ST (Sri Lanka)) v SSHD (2016) EWCA Civ 458
The Court of Appeal provided guidance on the correct approach to evaluating the circumstances in which a doctor’s report under the Home Office’s Enforcement Instructions and Guidance Chapter 55 rule 35 could amount to independent evidence of torture for the purposes of deciding whether a failed asylum seeker should be detained pending deportation.

VS v the Home Office [2015] EWCA Civ 1142
[2015] EWCA Civ 1137
Guideline case arising from two linked appeals on the correct construction of the Home Office’s policy on detaining children whose age are disputed. In dismissing the Home Office’s appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld the findings of the trial judge that the Home Office policy required the Secretary of State to make necessary inquiries into the reasons for the conclusion of a local authority age assessment and to satisfy herself that it is a lawful assessment of age before she is entitled to treat the putative child as an adult.

Das v SSHD [2014] EWCA Civ 45; [2014] 1 WLR 3538
The Court of Appeal held that the threshold for the Home Office’s Enforcement Instructions and Guidance Chapter 55 for detaining those with a serious mental illness does not require the individual’s mental health to be so serious that it requires in-patient hospitalisation. In overturning the High Court’s decision, the Court of Appeal held that such a threshold, as held by the court below, was contrary to the humane objects and purpose of the policy.

R (AA) v SSHD [2013] UKSC 49; [2012] EWCA Civ 1383
Test case considering whether the detention of an age-disputed child asylum seeker was in breach of the Secretary of State’s duty to safeguard the welfare of children under section 55 Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 and the Home Office’s policy of not detaining children. The case raised novel points of statutory construction and interplay between the Secretary of State’s power to detain and her duty to safeguard and promote the best interests of children. The Supreme Court judgment is available online: R (AA) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] UKSC 49; [2012] EWCA Civ 1383.

Detention Action v SSHD [2014] EWHC 2245 (Admin)
Acting for the Intervener, Equality and Human Rights Commission, this was a judicial review challenge against the policy of detaining asylum seekers while their claims and appeals were determined: the Detained Fast Track (DFT). On behalf of the ECHR, submissions were made in respect of the DFT policy being discriminatory against groups of individuals who are vulnerable and have protected characteristics. The policy operated in breach of Article 5 ECHR.