Home Office concedes in Court of Appeal that it acted unlawfully in restricting a Lithuanian’s employment

The successful appellant, Mr Lauzikas, was represented by Laura Dubinsky leading Alison Pickup of Doughty Street Chambers, instructed by Stefan Vnuk of Lupins Solicitors.

In a settlement with important ramifications for EU nationals and their family members in the UK, the Home Office has conceded that it acted unlawfully in prohibiting the employment of an EU national who was pursuing legal challenges to his deportation. As the Home Office conceded shortly before a hearing in the Court of Appeal, it should have considered whether it was necessary and justified to prevent the EU national from working while he remained in the UK. The Home Office cannot automatically restrict the employment of an EU national on the basis that he is the subject of deportation action. The Home Office conceded that on the facts of this case, the required assessment had not taken place and nor was the work restriction in fact necessary or justified.

Mr Lauzikas is a Lithuanian skilled construction worker who was continuously employed until his arrest following an altercation with the partner of his estranged partner in which he fired a BB gun. Mr. Lauzikas pleaded guilty to an offence of possession of an imitation firearm for which he was sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment. When he became eligible for release from prison, the Home Office detained him administratively and eventually decided to deport him. Mr. Lauzikas was granted bail by an immigration judge of the First-tier Tribunal (FtT’). The FtT judge refused the Home Office’s request to impose an employment restriction as a condition of bail. But two days later, without giving any warning or any reasons, the Home Office imposed an employment restriction on Mr. Lauzikas. There was no suggestion that Mr. Lauzikas’ employment was linked to his offending: on the contrary his probation officer indicated that his employment would be positive. There was no evidence that the Home Office had carried out any internal assessment of whether to impose the employment restriction- it appeared to be the automatic result of the decision to deport.  The employment restriction meant that Mr Lauzikas, who had previously supported himself, was unable to work while he remained in the UK pursuing a legal challenge to deportation.  He became dependent on Home Office vouchers of £35.39 a week and on Home Office accommodation for his subsistence needs. In separate proceedings, he subsequently established that he could not, in fact, lawfully be deported, and also that part of his administrative detention had also been unlawful.

In this settlement, reached after prolonged litigation challenging the employment restriction, the Home Office ultimately acknowledged that an employment restriction can only be imposed on an EU national following consideration of whether the employment restriction is necessary, justified and otherwise proportionate. It is not enough for the Home Office to point to the fact that it has decided to deport the individual.

The sealed order allowing the appeal and agreed statement of reasons approved by the Court of Appeal (Arden LJ) can be found here.