The issue on this appeal is the effect of section 55 on the legality of the appellant’s detention under paragraph 16 over a period of 13 days. At the time of the detention the Secretary of State acted in the mistaken but reasonable belief that he was aged over 18. It is now an agreed fact that he was born on 1 February 1993 and so was aged 17. If his true age had been known he would not have been detained, because his detention would have been contrary to the Secretary of State’s policy in relation to minors. The appellant’s case was that the fact of his age made his detention unlawful on the proper construction of section 55, and that the Secretary of State’s reasonable belief that he was over 18 was no defence to his claim.
Held: The appeal failed. The respondent acting under a genuine and reasonable if mistaken belief was not liable. To safeguard children the Secretary of State had to establish proper systems for arriving at a reliable assessment of a person’s age. That was not easy. She was vicariously responsible for the actions of her officers, but had issued detailed and appropriate guidance the evidence was that that guidance had been followed.
Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Toulson
 UKSC 49,  INLR 51,  1 WLR 2224,  HRLR 34,  3 FCR 515,  WLR(D) 272,  4 All ER 140, UKSC 2013/0032
Bailii, Balii Summary, SC Summary, SC, WLRD, Gazette
Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 55, Immigration Act 1971 S2, 16(2)
England and Wales
Appeal from – AA, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 26-Oct-2012
The applicant had been detained for immigration purposes, but it then transpired that, though unaccompanied on arrival, he was under 18, and should not have been detained. He was released after 13 days, but now sought judicial review. . .
Cited – Regina (B) v Merton London Borough Council Admn 14-Jul-2003
The authority had to decide the age of the applicant, an asylum seeker, in order to decide whether a duty was owed to him under the Act. He complained that the procedure adopted was unfair. The 2002 Act did not apply to persons under 18, and he . .
At first instance – A, Regina (on The Application of) v Cardiff County Council and Others Admn 7-Mar-2011
The claimant pursued an application for permission to apply for judicial review against the Secretary of State. He had entered unlawfully, and been held in immigration detention, but said that as a child at the time, he should not have bee detained. . .
Cited – AAM (A Child) v Secretary of State for The Home Department QBD 27-Sep-2012
The claimant sought damages, alleging false imprisonment and breach of article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The defendant conceded that the detention had been unlawful because officers had wrongly applied a presumption that an . .
Cited – Liversidge v Sir John Anderson HL 3-Nov-1941
The plaintiff sought damages for false imprisonment. The Secretary of State had refused to disclose certain documents. The question was as to the need for the defendant to justify the use of his powers by disclosing the documents.
Held: The . .
Cited – A, Regina (on the Application of) v London Borough of Croydon SC 26-Nov-2009
The applicants sought asylum, and, saying that they were children under eighteen, sought also the assistance of the local authority. Social workers judged them to be over eighteen and assistance was declined.
Held: The claimants’ appeals . .
Cited – Lumba (WL) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 23-Mar-2011
The claimants had been detained under the 1971 Act, after completing sentences of imprisonment pending their return to their home countries under deportations recommended by the judges at trial, or chosen by the respondent. They challenged as . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 10 March 2021; Ref: scu.512251