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No-notice citizenship deprivation ruled unlawful


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A few years ago we reported on new regulations allowing the Home Office to give someone notice that their British citizenship was being taken away by email — or by simply placing a letter on file. In R (D4) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 2179 (Admin), the High Cout has ruled those regulations unlawful.

Section 40(5) of the British Nationality Act 1981 requires the Home Secretary to give written notice to someone being deprived of their citizenship. As Mr Justice Chamberlain points out:

as a matter of ordinary language, you do not ‘give’ someone ‘notice’ of something by putting the notice in your desk drawer and locking it. No-one who understands English would regard that purely private act as a way of ‘giving notice’. That is so even if there is no reasonable step that could be taken to bring the notice to the attention of the person concerned.

As such, the relevant rule — regulation 10(4) — is straightforwardly ultra vires. Parliament did not give the Home Secretary the power to make rules on the notice requirement that effectively do away with that requirement.

In an unexpected twist, though, Chamberlain J went on to “suspend the effect” of his ruling. Joshua Rozenberg reckons what’s going on here is that “Chamberlain is a very shrewd judge and he has found a way — just about — of allowing Home Office lawyers a little time to find a way out of the mess they got themselves into” by serving alleged terrorists with ineffective deprivation notices.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.


One Response

  1. regulation 10(4) — is straightforwardly ultra vires.



    (a)the person’s whereabouts are not known; and

    (i)no address has been provided for correspondence and the Secretary of State does not know of any address which the person has used in the past; or
    (ii)the address provided to the Secretary of State is defective, false or no longer in use by the person; and

    (c)no representative appears to be acting for the person or the address provided in respect of that representative is defective, false or no longer used by the representative,
    the notice shall be deemed to have been given when the Secretary of State enters a record of the above circumstances and places the notice or a copy of it on the person’s file.

    Similarly, is SN1.6 straightforwardly ultra vires too?

    Where it is not possible to give notice in accordance with paragraphs SN1.3 and SN1.4 or where an attempt to do so has failed, and the decision-maker records the reason for this and places the notice on file, the notice shall be deemed to have been given on the day that it is placed on file.