Jun 01, 2021 - Trafficking authorities not experts on trafficking says criminal Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal’s Criminal Division has concluded that Home Office trafficking decisions are not admissible in criminal proceedings. Brecani v R [2021] EWCA Crim 731 concerned a 17-year-old convicted of taking part in a conspiracy to supply cocaine. During the trial, the Single Competent Authority — the arm of the Home Office that deals with trafficking cases — issued a conclusive grounds decision that he is a victim of trafficking, but the judge refused to admit it as evidence. The Court of Appeal confirmed that this decision was correct.

As a general rule, opinion evidence is excluded in...

Jun 01, 2021 - House prices jump 10.9% as 'race for space' intensifies

UK house prices soared 10.9% in the year to May, the highest level in seven years, according to the Nationwide.

The average house price has risen to £242,832, up £23,930 over the past twelve months.

Buyers are in a "race for space" as they seek larger homes and properties with gardens, Nationwide said.

"The market has seen a complete turnaround over the past twelve months," said Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist.

A year ago, activity collapsed in the wake of the first lockdown with housing transactions falling to a record low of 42,000 in April 2020, he said.

"But activity surged to...

May 27, 2021 - Government to waive settlement fees for Commonwealth soldiers with 12 years’ service

The government is proposing to waive settlement fees for certain non-British members of the armed forces. A consultation on the draft proposal, launched yesterday, follows years of Commonwealth soldiers being denied the right to remain in the UK after discharge because of fees and lack of advice on the paperwork required.

Citizens of certain foreign countries, mostly those in the Commonwealth, are eligible to serve in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Around 9,000 foreign nationals currently do so. They are eligible for indefinite leave to remain afterwards, provided that they have served for four y...

May 27, 2021 - Covid: Banks call for overhaul of mortgage support

Banks and building societies want ministers to extend help for those struggling to pay their mortgage owing to the financial effects of Covid.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is a loan available to some people in the UK on benefits, which is usually repaid when their property is sold.

Applicants have to wait for 39 weeks after losing their job before they are able to make a claim.

Banks want the wait to cut to 13 weeks, as happened after the financial crisis.

The government said that anyone struggling to pay their mortgage should first go to their lender, who has a duty to support them.


May 27, 2021 - Migrants win improved access to personal data held by the Home Office

Giving migrants in the UK reduced data protection rights without proper safeguards is unlawful, the Court of Appeal held yesterday. The judgment overturns a 2019 High Court ruling and is a significant victory for the campaign groups involved, who have long campaigned against the so-called “immigration exemption”. The case is R (Open Rights Group & the3million) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor [2021] EWCA Civ 800.

The immigration exemption

Data protection laws give people various rights over their personal information, including to request a copy of what an organisation has o...

May 25, 2021 - Lawyers warned not to include brand new arguments in Cart judicial reviews

Always a stickler for procedure, President Lane has again warned lawyers to not judicially review decisions of the Upper Tribunal refusing permission to appeal on grounds that were not before the Upper Tribunal in the first place. The case is Osefiso and another (PTA decision: effect; ‘Cart’ JR) [2021] UKUT 116 (IAC).

Ms Osefiso, from Nigeria, was relying on human rights considerations for permission to remain in the UK. She had previously been granted permission on the private life route and was now applying for further permission to remain for herself and her son, born in 2015, on continuing...

May 25, 2021 - Face-to-face learning required for international students from 27 Sept 2021

The Home Office updated its Covid-19 guidance for overseas students and education providers yesterday. By far the most significant change relates to the distance learning concession introduced last year. Providers can still commence the sponsorship of new students who will initially study via distance or blended learning but only if “they intend to transition to face-to-face learning from 27 September 2021”.

Later it is stated more bluntly: ‘This distance learning concession will be in place for the duration of the 2020-21 academic year, ending on 27 September 2021’.

This has the potential to ...

May 25, 2021 - Government borrowing fell in April as UK reopened

Government borrowing fell in April compared with the same month last year, as parts of the economy reopened after lockdown measures eased.

Borrowing - the difference between spending and tax income - was £31.7bn, official figures show, which was £15.6bn lower than April last year.

However, the figure was the second highest for April since records began.

Borrowing has been hitting record levels with billions being spent on measures such as furlough payments.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) now estimates that the government borrowed a total of £300.3bn in the financial year to March. Wh...

May 24, 2021 - New Plan for Immigration 2: Electronic Boogaloo

The Home Office published a New Plan for Immigration “strategy statement” earlier today. It is mostly about legal immigration and economic migrants, as opposed to the New Plan for Immigration document published in March that focused on illegal immigration and asylum seekers.

The statement is 38 pages long, but with plenty of padding: the “key deliverables for 2021-22” take up about 10 pages, mostly stuff that has previously been announced. There are some nuggets of new information, including — inevitably — more meddling with business visas.

We are also treated to the department’s “vision for t...

May 24, 2021 - Man who won British citizenship by fraud gets to keep it thanks to Home Office inaction

An Albanian man who secured his British citizenship by fraud must be allowed to keep it because of the Home Office’s inexplicable nine-year delay in taking action after it found out, the Court of Appeal has held. The judgment in Laci v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 769 also untangles and explains some of the previous case law on deprivation of citizenship on the basis of deception.

The Kosovar refugee who wasn’t

Bujar Laci was born in Albania in 1983. Aged 16, he came to the UK and claimed asylum, claiming to be from Kosovo and giving a fake date of birth. He was a...