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Sudanese man unlawfully refused indefinite leave to remain after domestic abuse


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The case of R (Suliman) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWHC 326 (Admin) is a welcome reminder to the Home Office that there may be an array of reasons for a victim of domestic abuse not to tell the authorities.

Mr Suliman is a Sudanese citizen who applied for indefinite leave to remain on the basis that he had been a victim of domestic abuse. The Home Office refused his application. The reasoning of the refusal letter will be sadly familiar to practitioners assisting victims of domestic abuse. Quoting the High Court:

After summarising some of the evidence which [Mr Suliman] had submitted the decision maker said, ‘… nowhere in these notes is any explanation given for these injuries in that your wife caused them.’. In effect, therefore, the Secretary of State whilst accepting that the Claimant had attended hospital with injuries that are consistent with his account, refused to conclude that the Claimant’s wife caused them. [paragraph 20]

The High Court found, however, that the refusal was unlawful because it failed to address the reasons given by Mr Suliman as to why he didn’t report the abuse:

the Secretary of State did not address or deal with the reasons explained by the Claimant why he was reluctant to tell the police or the medical authorities. These were, variously, his own sense of shame; ‘cowardness’; his residual love for his wife despite her behaviour; and his fear of losing her or getting her into trouble. If the Secretary of State was going to deal with matters fairly then this evidence needed to be confronted and a conclusion reached. [25]

It is also gratifying to see that Mr Justice Julian Knowles found those explanations plausible:

I am bound to say that these explanations all strike me as being inherently plausible and the fairly typical response of an abused partner in a relationship. They provide at least an equally convincing explanation for why the Claimant said nothing at the time as the one reached by the Secretary of State, ie, that he had not been assaulted by his wife. Fairness required the Secretary of State to address it. [25]

The judge therefore quashed the refusal of indefinite leave to remain.

Interestingly, the Home Office also said that Mr Suliman technically didn’t qualify for the domestic abuse settlement scheme within the Immigration Rules because he had never been granted leave as a partner under Appendix FM of the Rules. Instead, his leave to remain was under Part 8 of the Immigration Rules, which preceded Appendix FM.

The Home Office did, however, go on to accept that Mr Suliman had been granted leave as a partner and considered his application outside the Rules. Any other conclusion would have gone against the spirit of the immigration system’s approach to domestic abuse, which is to enable migrants in the UK to escape an abusive relationship without endangering their immigration status.

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Picture of Nath Gbikpi

Nath Gbikpi

Nath is an immigration lawyer at Leigh Day Solicitors and a Visiting Fellow in Practice at the London School of Economics.


One Response

  1. A problem may have been that

    18.3.2017 Claimant applies for LLTR on the basis of his private life and exceptional circumstances

    17.11.2017 SSHD refuses application for LLTR on private life and exceptional circumstances grounds and certified claim under s 94 of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

    27.11.2017 Claimant applies for LLTR outside IRs under the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC)

    7.12.2017 SSHD grants LLTR under DDVC until 6.3.2018

    Unfortunately, he didn’t apply for ILR under A280(c), 289A, 289B on 18.3.2017 while he was under Part 8. I think A280B

    An applicant aged 18 or over may not rely on paragraph A280 where, since their last grant of limited leave to enter or remain under Part 8, they have been granted or refused leave under Appendix FM, Appendix Armed Forces or paragraph 276BE to CE of these rules, or been granted limited leave to enter or remain in a category outside their original route to settlement.

    prevented him from applying for ILR under Part 8 later on.

    However, if they accepted that he was a victim of domestic violence when they granted him LLTR outside the rules under DDVC on 7.12.2017, then why dispute this in 2018?