High Court rejects challenge to the EU Settlement Scheme

EU Law

The Administrative Court has refused to grant permission to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (“JCWI”) to bring a judicial review challenge to the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”). The EUSS enables EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, and their family members, to obtain the necessary immigration status to reside lawfully in the UK after the UK’s exit from the EU. JCWI argued that in failing to obtain particular quantitative data to show the potential impact of the EUSS, the Secretary of State for the Home Department had failed to comply with her duty of inquiry inherent in the public sector equality duty. It also argued that the EUSS discriminated against a number of protected groups, contrary to the Withdrawal Agreement, Article 14 ECHR and the Equality Act 2010. Refusing permission for the claim to proceed on all grounds, Lieven J commented that the Secretary of State had made significant efforts to meet concerns that the EUSS might have discriminatory impacts, and decided that it was unarguable that she had failed in her public sector equality duty. Lieven J also decided that there was insufficient evidence to say that there was any arguable discrimination, on any ground. It was premature to address the “safety net” for late applications made after 30 June 2021, as guidance was yet to be published, and the deadline had not yet been reached. The case was reported in the Guardian here. David Blundell QC and Julia Smyth represented the Secretary of State, instructed by the Government Legal Department.

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