Read the full case here.

This is a troubling case in which E Laing J considered the lawfulness of the detention pending deportation, for over two years, of a Chinese woman whose mental and physical health deteriorated very seriously.

The difficulty was that the C had a history of committing repeated but not very serious offences (for which she had served a total of 10 months) and of absconding many times. Her asylum claimed had been dismissed as entirely false and once in detention she co-operated with obtaining a travel document only belatedly. Her application for revocation of the deportation order was refused.

The J ultimately found that the SSHD had breached public law principles by failing when served with medical reports by the C’s representative to take reasonable steps to inform herself to make a proper judgment about whether her health conditions could be satisfactorily managed in detention. The SSHD’s remarkable submission was that the reports were “medical advocacy” and the SSHD was not obliged to give them any weight. This was rejected as were other extreme submissions.

The C was awarded nominal damages for a period in which the SSHD had failed in her public law duties but the J considered that had the SSHD complied with her duty of inquiry, she could and would lawfully have continued to detain the C. However from the date after the C had fallen down stairs and broken her back she was awarded damages to reflect a breach of the Hardial Singh principle that detention may continue only for such period is reasonable in all the circumstances.

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