The statutory procedure for an appeal by an asylum seeker against the Home's Secretary's certificate that the refugee's removal to a safe third country would not involve a breach of the United Kingdom's obligations under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was not so contrary to the rules of fairness that the court should intervene to impose a duty on the Home Secretary to disclose material about the safety of the third country.
The Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Steyn dissenting) allowed an appeal by the Home Secretary from Mr Justice Sedley's decision on 4 March 1994 granting applications for judicial review. The court granted leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
The applicants, both Muslim Somalis, claimed asylum on arrival in the UK from Somalia via Spain. The Home Secretary, on the basis of his knowledge of Spain's immigration policies and practices, decided that Spain was a safe country to which the applicants could be returned without fear that Spain would not comply with the Convention. He certified that the applicants' claims that their removal from the UK would be contrary to the UK's obligations under the Convention were without foundation.
Special adjudicators dismissed the applicants' appeals against the certificates under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993. Mr Justice Sedley quashed the adjudicators' decisions on the ground that the applicants were not given a fair hearing as the Home Office had not disclosed factual material tending to show that Spain was not a safe country. The applicants also argued that there was no evidence before the adjudicators that Spain was a safe third country.
David Pannick QC and Ian Ashford- Thom (Treasury Solicitor) for the Home Secretary; W Robert Griffiths QC and Christa Fielden (Param & Co) for the applicants.
LORD JUSTICE NEILL said that the special adjudicator's task was to decide whether or not he agreed that the applicants' claim was without foundation. The procedure for appeals to special adjudicators under the Asylum Appeals (Procedure) Rules 1993 imposed stringent time limits.
In the light of the specific provisions in the rules, the obligations of the …