Privy Council gives judgment on the meaning of “belonger” in the Constitution of Bermuda

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The Privy Council gave judgment on 11th November 2019 in the case of The Minister of Home Affairs and another (Respondents) v Barbosa (Appellant) (Bermuda) [2019] UKPC 41. It dismissed Mr Barbosa’s appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, which had decided that he was not a “belonger” entitled to the protection of ss11 and 12 of the Constitution. The appeal turned on whether the list of “belongers” in s11(5) was exhaustive; or whether Mr Barbosa had a common law right of abode in Bermuda by virtue of his British Overseas Territories citizenship which he had acquired because of his birth in Bermuda. He argued that he did have such a right of abode, and that this should be reflected in the construction of s11. The Privy Council held that he had no such common law right following a detailed analysis of the evolution of both citizenship and immigration law. In particular, it rejected his attempted reliance on R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) [2009] AC 453, concerning the status of the Chagos Islanders. Richard Drabble QC (leading Peter Sanderson and instructed by Simons Muirhead & Burton LLP) appeared for Mr Barbosa.

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