Commissioner of the British Indian Ocean Territory concedes protection challenges


The Claimants fled Sri Lanka and India in fear of persecution. Their boat foundered off the British Indian Ocean Territory (“BIOT”), a remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean which houses a military base. The Royal Navy towed them to port where they claimed asylum. The Commissioner for BIOT instituted a procedure for determining their protection claims but ultimately refused the Claimants’ claims. The Claimants sought judicial review in the Supreme Court of BIOT on the grounds that the procedure for determining their claims had been fundamentally unfair.

On 25 September 2023, the Chief Justice approved an order by which the Commissioner for BIOT agreed to (i) withdraw the refusal decisions, (ii) reform the protection procedure by instituting a “minded to” process and providing legal aid for expert evidence, and (iii) pay the Claimants’ costs on the indemnity basis.

Chris Buttler KC and Ali Bandegani acted for the First and Second Claimants, instructed by Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

Ben Jaffey KC, Alasdair Mackenzie, Jason Pobjoy, Natasha Simonson, Antonia Benfield and Benjamin Bundock acted for the Third to Tenth Claimants, instructed by Leigh Day Solicitors.

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