Regina (on the application of Abassi and Another) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Another: CA 6 Nov 2002

A British national had been captured in Afghanistan, and was being held without remedy by US forces. His family sought an order requiring the respondent to take greater steps to secure his release or provide other assistance.
Held: Such an order would question the legitimacy of the actions of a foreign sovereign state, and to adjudicate upon executive actions in the conduct of foreign affairs. The detention was objectionable. The court could provide no direct remedy, since the British government had no control nor active part in it. There was no legitimate expectation created which could support an application for judicial review of the actions of the respondent. The government could continue to make representations, but that must always be in the respondents discretion. The respondent had properly considered the requests, and no more could reasonably be expected.


Phillips MR, Waller, Carnwath LJJ


Times 08-Nov-2002, Gazette 06-Dec-2002, [2002] EWCA Civ 1598, [2002] All ER (D) 70, [2003] UKHR 76




England and Wales


CitedKhera v Secretary of State for The Home Department; Khawaja v Secretary of State for The Home Department HL 10-Feb-1983
The appellant Khera’s father had obtained leave to settle in the UK. The appellant obtained leave to join him, but did not disclose that he had married. After his entry his wife in turn sought to join him. The appellant was detained as an illegal . .
CitedEisentrager v Forrestal 5-Jun-1949
(US Supreme Court) German citizens had been convicted of espionage by a United States military commission after the surrender of Germany at the end of the Second World War. They were repatriated to Landsberg Prison in Germany to serve their . .
CitedBuck v Attorney General CA 2-Jan-1965
By an action for declaratory relief, a challenge was offered to the validity of the Order in Council giving effect to the 1961 Act.
Held: The appeal failed. As a matter of international comity an English court should not grant declarations . .
CitedButtes Gas and Oil Co v Hammer (No 3) HL 1981
In a defamation action, issues arose as to two conflicting oil concessions which neighbouring states in the Arabian Gulf had granted over their territorial and offshore waters. The foreign relations of the United Kingdom and Iran were also involved . .
CitedWestland Helicopters Ltd v Arab Organisation for Industrialisation 1995
International arbitration proceedings under a joint venture agreement had led to an award in Westland’s favour against the Organisation. The award was converted into a judgment and Westland obtained garnishee orders nisi against six London banks. . .
CitedBritish Airways Board v Laker Airways Limited HL 1985
The plaintiffs tried to restrain the defendant from pursuing an action in the US courts claiming that the plaintiffs had acted together in an unlawful conspiracy to undermine the defendant’s business.
Held: The action in the US were unlawful . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs ex parte British Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations and Another Admn 19-Mar-1998
The applicants sought judicial review of the respondent’s decision to support the application for admission to the Eurorpean Community of Cyprus.
Held: Leave was refused: ‘the independence of Cyprus since 17th August 1960 forecloses any power . .
CitedIn re Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Co Ltd (Belgium v Spain) (second phase) ICJ 5-Feb-1970
ICJ The claim arose out of the adjudication in bankruptcy in Spain of Barcelona Traction, a company incorporated in Canada. Its object was to seek reparation for damage alleged by Belgium to have been sustained . .
CitedOppenheimer v Cattermole (Inspector of Taxes) HL 5-Feb-1975
HL Income tax, Schedule D – Foreign possessions – Double taxation relief – German government pension for past services – Paid to British subject of German origin – Whether German nationality deemed to be retained . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Pirbhai CA 1985
Sir John Donaldson MR said: ‘in the context of a situation with serious implications for the conduct of international relations, the courts should act with a high degree of circumspection in the interests of all concerned. It can rarely, if ever, be . .

Cited by:

CitedMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 1) Admn 21-Aug-2008
The claimant had been detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay suspected of terrorist involvement. He sought to support his defence documents from the respondent which showed that the evidence to be relied on in the US courts had been obtained by . .
CitedShergill and Others v Khaira and Others SC 11-Jun-2014
The parties disputed the trusts upon which three Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) were held. The Court of Appeal had held that the issues underlying the dispute were to be found in matters of the faith of the Sikh parties, and had ordered a permanent stay. . .
ApprovedSandiford, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs SC 16-Jul-2014
The appellant a British Citizen awaited execution in Singapore after conviction on a drugs charge. The only way she might get legal help for a further appeal would be if she was given legal aid by the respondent. She sought assistance both on Human . .
CitedMiller, Regina (On the Application Of) v The Prime Minister QBD 11-Sep-2019
Prorogation request was non-justiciable
The claimant sought to challenge the prorogation of Parliament by the Queen at the request of the respondent.
Held: The claim failed: ‘the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is not justiciable . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Judicial Review, Constitutional

Updated: 06 July 2022; Ref: scu.178026