Doughty Street barristers are at the forefront of work holding the state to account in its use of immigration detention powers and its conduct towards those it detains. Our barristers appear at all levels in public and private law challenges and have been involved in much of the major litigation in this area. We also act in inquests arising out of deaths in detention and in related civil litigation, as well as in public inquiries relating to immigration detention.

Why Doughty Street?

This is a fast-developing inherently interdisciplinary field of work. It requires detailed knowledge of the public law principles governing the exercise of detention powers and the tortious principles applicable in damages claims, as well as the assessment of tort and HRA damages. Detention challenges can also raise complex procedural issues, with cases often beginning as judicial review claims, before being transferred to the County Court or the QBD to continue under Part 7 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

Doughty Street barristers are well known for their work in immigration detention and more broadly for their work in immigration, public law and civil actions against public authorities. We are familiar with the differing disciplines of pleading public law and private law claims, and our substantive expertise is underpinned by procedural rigour.

We bring cross-disciplinary expertise and strength in depth to our work in this field. Challenges to immigration detention often necessitate engagement with related issues such as access to justice, community care, asylum support, Schedule 10 accommodation, reporting conditions, bail powers, trafficked status and decision-making under the NRM, support under the Mental Health Act, issues arising under the Equality Act, and issues around mental capacity. Our breadth of experience ensures that we can provide expert advice and representation whatever issues may arise in a particular case.

Our track record in this area speaks for itself. Our members appeared in the leading cases of R(I) v SSHD [2003] INLR 196 (CA) and R(A) [2007] EWCA Civ 804 (CA), at the time the main authorities on the application of the Hardial Singh principles, and in the major Supreme Court cases of Lumba v SSHD [2012] AC 245 and Kambadzi v SSHD [2011] 1 WLR 1299. More recent examples of our involvement in significant cases in this area include DN (Rwanda) v SSHD [2020] AC 698 (SC) (public law errors), B (Algeria) v SSHD [2018] AC 418 (SC), Kaitey v SSHD [2021] QB 285 (HC), and Jalloh v SSHD [2021] AC 262 (SC) (bail and detention, bail conditions), ASK v SSHD [2019] EWCA Civ 1239 (CA)  (discrimination and psychiatric treatment), FB (Afghanistan) v SSHD [2021] 2 WLR 839 (CA) (removal window policy), and ARF v SSHD [2017] EWHC 10 (QB) (HC) (Article 3 ECHR).

Our clients

We act for individuals in detention and those seeking compensation for past detention, as well as NGOs active in this area. Our barristers have appeared on behalf of Bail for Immigration Detainees in interventions and are frequently instructed by the Official Solicitor. Members have given evidence before parliamentary inquiries on immigration detention and have been involved in parliamentary advisory work on bills and policies impacting detainees.

The solicitors we work with range from those specialising in detention challenges, to immigration specialists dealing with detention as part of a broader immigration caseload, to those with significant experience of claims against a range of public authorities. We recognise that there is a range of experience amongst solicitors advising detained clients and we are happy to advise on procedural and substantive elements of the litigation process as necessary.

The Immigration Detention Group

Our offering in relation to immigration detention is defined by a shared commitment to ensuring that current and past detainees receive high quality advice and robust and expert representation. We are collaborative in our approach. The group includes authors of the leading textbooks on immigration detention, Foreign National Prisoners: law and practice (Legal Action Group, 2012) and Detention under the Immigration Acts: Law and Practice (OUP, 2015). We provide training on detention through chambers seminars and webinars, bespoke in-house training, and through third party organisations such as ILPA.

Our services

  • Judicial review: We provide advice and representation in judicial review proceedings challenging the legality of detention, including urgent applications for interim relief where appropriate, and we act in related proceedings challenging bail conditions and failures or delays in the provision of release accommodation.

  • Civil claims: We lead the field in civil actions against the Home Office and its contractors for damages for false imprisonment, breaches of the Human Rights Act, negligence and under the Equality Act, and we have a strong record of obtaining compensation for those who have been unlawfully detained, both through negotiated settlements and at trial.

  • Bail applications: We provide representation in bail applications before the FTT and we can provide strategic advice on the approach to bail in cases where judicial review proceedings are ongoing or in contemplation.

  • Inquests and Inquiries: We represent bereaved families in cases arising out of deaths in detention and in related civil litigation. We appear in public inquiries, with a number of members currently instructed in the Brook House inquiry.