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Home Office pays £40,000 in damages for delay in issuing EU residence documents


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Following the judgment last year in R (on the application of Zewdu) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 2148 (Admin) (09 June 2015) solicitors Duncan Lewis have revealed that the Home Office agreed to pay a record £40,000 in damages for the 19 month delay in issuing Ms Zewdu with her EU residence documents.

Ms Zewdu’s case was based on the Zambrano C-34/09 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union. She is an Ethiopian national who arrived in the UK in 2003 aged 17. Following a relationship with a British man she gave birth to a British citizen child in 2009. Ms Zewdu’s relationship with the father broke down and the father of the child left the UK and moved to Jamaica in 2012.

The Home Office accepted in 2013 that Ms Zewdu was the sole carer for her British child and that the child would have to leave the UK if Ms Zewdu was not permitted to remain. Ms Zewdu was granted 30 months of Discretionary Leave to Remain on this basis. However, there was a 19 month delay in issuing Ms Zewdu with a five year “derivative rights” residence card under EU law, to which she was inevitably entitled on the facts of the case.

It is difficult to know exactly what the basis was for calculating quantum (meaning the amount of damages paid) because the original judgment does not touch on the damages issue and the Duncan Lewis press release does not go into a lot of detail. The settlement seems particularly interesting because:

  • Ms Zewdu did not have lawful status prior to the grant of DLR; and
  • Ms Zewdu was seemingly able to work for the 19 month period of delay because she had been granted DLR, so there should have been no direct financial losses in that respect.

Trevor Hatton, solicitor for Ms Zewdu, is quoted as saying:

The applicant is delighted with the outcome, being able to pay off all her debts with plenty to spare, and pursue her dream job as a qualified teacher.

As previously discussed here on Free Movement, there is certainly potential to pursue actions for damages if there is a delay in the issuing of residence documents beyond the six month period allowed for under EU law. See earlier post Claiming damages for breaches of EU free movement rights. There is no legal aid available for such an action but those affected might be able to pursue it themselves acting as litigants in person or paying privately or using a Conditional Fee Arrangement with a solicitor or barrister.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.