W v Home Office: CA 19 Feb 1997

W had been held in immigration detention because of a crass administrative mistake about his ability to establish his country of origin.
Held: An immigration officer who was using his statutory powers is not liable for negligent or false imprisonment: ‘The process whereby the decision making body gathers information and comes to its decision cannot be the subject of an action in negligence. It suffices to rely on the absence of the required proximity. In gathering information, and taking it into account the Defendants are acting pursuant to their statutory powers and within that area of their discretion where only deliberate abuse would provide a private remedy. For them to owe a duty of care to immigrants would be inconsistent with the proper performance of their responsibilities as immigration officers. In conducting their inquiries, and making decisions in relation to immigrants, including whether they should be detained pending those inquiries, they are acting in that capacity of public servant to which the considerations outlined above apply.’
Lord Woolf MR, Thorpe, Waller LJJ
Times 14-Mar-1997, [1997] EWCA Civ 1052, [1997] Imm AR 302
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedHome Office v Mohammed and Others CA 29-Mar-2011
The claimants sought damages saying that after a decision had been made that they should receive indefinite leave to remain in 2001 (latest), the leave was not issued until 2007 (earliest) thus causing them severe losses. The defendant now appealed . .

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Updated: 20 April 2021; Ref: scu.90211