Hearings in the two separate court actions of Ali and Rashidi v. Serco Limited, Compass SNI Limited, and the Secretary of State for the Home Department are due to take place this week on the 7th and 8th February 2019 at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
The debates will be heard before Lord Tyre. The Home Office will be represented by Roddy McIlvride QC and Brian Gill, Advocate. Serco and Compass are represented by Craig Connal QC and Dan Byrne, Advocate. The pursuers are represented by Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate and Principal Solicitor at Govan Law Centre.
Christine McKellar, Senior Solicitor at Govan Law Centre said:
“In these cases, Govan Law Centre seeks to challenge Serco Ltd and Compass SNI Ltd’s practice and policy of changing the locks to asylum seekers’ homes by arguing that no eviction should take place without the authority of a court order. We believe this right is enshrined in European human rights law, which has repeatedly been upheld by the UK Supreme Court.
The defenders all argue that Serco and Compass isn’t subject to the Human Rights Act 1998 Act as they are private companies, while the Home Office also argues the existence of a ongoing right of appeal to the Immigration Tribunal for housing support permits summary evictions by Serco. We disagree but it will be for the court to determine whether such DIY evictions are lawful under Scots law and the Human Rights Act.
Govan Law Centre believes that to have a home is a fundamental human right. Asylum seekers have often fled their countries for fear of persecution and seek safety and a better life. For an asylum seeker to then have their home taken from them by changing the locks to the property, without the right to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction before a court, should be unlawful and incompatible with the 1998 Act.
The debate hearings will hopefully settle this complex legal dispute and if successful, it will be a major step towards protecting the human rights of asylum seekers in Scotland. If these arguments prove unsuccessful, we agree that this would be a humanitarian crisis affecting some of the most vulnerable members of our society”.