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Matrix Judgments & Commentary

Matrix’s Legal Support Service produce summaries of cases that Matrix members are involved in, which you can find below. You can browse these through the search function on the right.

Decision for Heathrow’s third runway found to be unlawful

R (Friends of the Earth) v Secretary of State for Transport and Ors [2020] EWCA Civ 214

The Court of Appeal have ruled on the proposed expansion of capacity at Heathrow Airport by the addition of a third runway under the policy set out in the “Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the south east of England” (“the ANPS”). The ANPS designated by the then Secretary of State for Transport in June 2018, is a national policy statement prepared Planning Act 2008, s5(1). It was subject to a number of legal challenges brought by claims for judicial review in accordance with the procedure that Parliament has provided for such challenges to be brought, in Planning Act, s13(1).

Held: The Court of Appeal has ruled that the expansion plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport were unlawful as the government did not take into account the UK’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement or the full climate change impacts of the proposal. The ruling is the first ever to be based on the Paris agreement to tackle climate change and the Prime Minister could use this ruling to abandon the project altogether. The judges said that a third runway could be possible in the future, if the plans changed to conform with UK climate commitments.

Supreme Court rules that Rwandan national can claim damages for false imprisonment following detention

R (DN (Rwanda)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] UKSC 7

The appellant, DN, is a Rwandan national who was granted refugee status in the UK pursuant to the 1951 Refugee Convention. DN was subsequently convicted of a number of offences, the most serious of which occurred when he pleaded guilty to assisting unlawful entry of a non-EEA national in the UK. The Secretary of State for the Home Department used the powers under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to order the deportation of DN. DN’s attempt to assist unlawful immigration to a member state country was a serious offence by way of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Specification of Particularly Serious Crimes) Order 2004. The Secretary of State ordered DN’s deportation and detention pending deportation.

DN sought judicial review of the deportation order. Following a stay and the decision in EN (Serbia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 630, which determined that the 2004 Order was unlawful, DN amended his judicial review proceedings to concentrate on the lawfulness of the detention. Following a further stay and the decision in R (Draga) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWCA Civ 842, where the Court of Appeal ruled detention lawful even where based on an unlawful deportation order, the Court of Appeal dismissed DN’s substantive appeal.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal and confirmed that DN was entitled to pursue a claim for damages for false imprisonment. The Court relied on Lord Dyson’s judgment in Lumba that here is no difference between a detention that is unlawful because there was no statutory power to detain and a detention that is unlawful because the decision to detain was made in breach of a rule of public law. As in Lumba, there was no statutory power to detain DN. The 2004 Order upon which the decision to deport was based was ruled unlawful in EN (Serbia). As detention was for the express purpose of facilitating deportation, without a lawful deportation order the occasion for detention simply did not arise.

Court of Appeal provides route map for judges to follow when considering whether to make a forced marriage protection order

Re K (Forced Marriage: Passport Order) [2020] EWCA Civ 190

The Court of Appeal provided a route map for judges to follow when considering whether to make a forced marriage protection order. The Court held that it had power to make orders in respect of adults who have capacity, including to impose a travel ban or to confiscate a passport. The Court gave guidance on how to accommodate rights under Article 8 of the ECHR, with potential breaches of Article 3.

Court of Appeal rules that doctors can stop providing life-support treatment to brain-damaged baby

Re M (Declaration of Death of Child) [2020] EWCA Civ 164

Following the difficult birth of the child, the child was placed on a ventilator in the neonatal intensive care unit. Doctors concluded that the child was clinically dead but the child has remained connected to the NICU ventilator, his heart has continued to beat and he has been fed. The child’s parents do not accept their baby is dead. The Trust seek permission to turn the ventilator off and disconnect it. The High Court had concluded that the application made by the Trust should be granted. The parents appealed. The issue for the court is whether M is dead, according to the DNC tests and relevant clinical guidance and if so whether the ventilator can be removed. Where a person is dead, the question of best interests is no longer relevant.

The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s judgment. It held that, as a matter of law, brain stem death is established as the legal criteria in the UK by the House of Lord’s decision in Bland and it was not open to the court to contemplate a different test. The factual and medical evidence before the court was sufficient to justify the findings that M was dead. Insofar as the parents argued that the case should be determined on a ‘best interests’ basis, the outcome of a best interests analysis could not produce any other outcome but approval for the removal of the ventilator.

High Court rules that student finance regulations discriminate against domestic violence survivors

OA v Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWHC 276 (Admin)

The High Court has today ruled that a survivor of domestic violence was unlawfully refused a student loan and that the current student finance regulations discriminate against victims of domestic violence. The court ruled there was a breach of her ECHR, article 14 and article 2 of the first protocol.

The claimant’s ex-partner had withheld her immigration documents. This led to her spousal visa not being renewed in time and led to the client remaining unlawfully in the UK for nearly a year through no fault of her own.

She was later granted indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence. But the gap in ‘lawful residency’ caused by her ex-partner’s abuse led to her being precluded by the current education regulations from obtaining a student loan.

Without student funding, she incurred significant debt with her university and was forced to withdraw from her studies.