High Court in Northern Ireland upholds challenge to Illegal Migration Act 2023, disapplying central provisions and granting declaration of incompatibility

An application for judicial review by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and an individual named JR295 was upheld today by the High Court in Northern Ireland. The Court held that a number of central provisions in the Illegal Migration Act 2023 were in breach of Article 2 of the Windsor Framework (formerly named Northern Ireland Protocol) within the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Those provisions are sections 2(1), 5(1), 5(2), 6, 13(4), 22(2), 22(3) and 57. Those provisions were a ‘diminution of’ (or incompatible with) certain rights within the EU Procedures Directive, Qualification Directive, Trafficking Directive, the Dublin III Regulations and the EU Charter. As a consequence, the Court disapplied all of those provisions of the IMA 2023 in Northern Ireland.

The Court also held that the following provisions of the IMA 2023 are incompatible with articles 3, 4, and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and as a consequence granted a declaration of incompatibility under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

• Sections 2(1), 5(1), 6(3) and 6(7) insofar as they impose a duty to remove. 

• Sections 2(1), 5, 6 and 22 insofar as they relate to potential victims of modern slavery or human trafficking. 

• Sections 2(1), 5(1) and 6 relating to children. 

Adam Straw KC represents the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, leading Yaaser Vanderman. Jude Bunting KC acts for JR295, leading Robert McTernaghan of the Northern Ireland Bar, instructed by Phoenix Law.

A summary of the judgment is available here: Summary of judgment - In re NIRHC and JR 295 (Illegal Migration Act 2023).pdf (

Media includes: 

Belfast Telegraph

Sky News

Daily Mail