In a recent judgement, Aruchanga v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 282 (KB), the High Court refused the Home Secretary’s application to strike out the claimant’s negligence claim against them.
The Claimant arrived in the UK in May 1995 from Rwanda and claimed asylum upon arrival. He was granted refugee status in December 1997. In 1999, the Claimant’s house was burgled and documentation relating to his refugee status was stolen.
The claimant made several attempts over the years to obtain replacement documentation from the Home Secretary to confirm his refugee status, however no documentation was provided.
Aruchanga v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 282 (KB)
The court considered the application to strike out the claim made by the Home Secretary on the grounds that they disclosed no reasonable cause of action and/or that they amounted to an abuse of the court’s process.
The Court first considered whether it was arguable that the Secretary of State owed the claimant a common law duty of care to provide confirmation of refugee status when requested.
The Court adopted the three-stage approach set out in Caparo Industries plc v Dickman  1 All ER 568, and confirmed the following:
1. It was, arguably, reasonably foreseeable that the claimant’s immigration status could be at risk in the absence of confirmation, given the burden on him to prove that he had lawful leave to remain.
2. He could be subject to deportation or to detention pending deportation in absence of confirmation.
3. It was arguable that there was a sufficient relationship of proximity between the Secretary of State and the claimant, given that only the Secretary of State was able to confer refugee status and the document remained, apparently, the only written proof of status
Accordingly, the Court decided to not strike out the claim made by the claimant. The Court held that the merits of the Claimant’s claim was arguable.
The findings in Aruchanga v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 282 (KB) On 14th April 2022 are much welcomed. The decision may provide a reminder to the Home Secretary of their duty to ensure that maintain accurate records that are accessible. The importance of this cannot be understated, as failure to do so can cause significant barriers here in the UK.
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