Compensation for Unlawful Immigration Detention

If you were subject to illegal immigration detention in the UK, you can file a claim against the Home Office UKVI for damages or compensation.

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Claim Damages/Compensation for Unlawful Immigration Detention

If you were subject to illegal immigration detention in the UK, you can file a claim against the Home Office UKVI for damages or compensation. For free online advice regarding unlawful immigration detention, submit our inquiry form. One of our immigration lawyers will respond to your question within 24 hours.
We will give you a free consultation to determine if you are eligible for damages or compensation for unlawful immigration arrest.

What is the unlawful immigration detention?

The Home Office UKVI can use unlawful immigration detention to hold a person if it is not legal to do so and is beyond the law’s boundaries. Individual liberty is of paramount importance and anyone who believes they have been unlawfully detained may be entitled for compensation.

A court could find your immigration detention illegal under the following circumstances

  • If you are granted valid leave to stay in the UK during your immigration detention, the Home Office UKVI will incorrectly treat you as an overstayer or a person without leave to remain.
  • If you are granted Section 3C leave due to a pending appeal or application, and the Home Office UKVI incorrectly considered you as a person without leave to remain at the time you were detained for immigration;
  • If you are an EU citizen or a relative of an EU citizen and you were treated by the Home Office UKVI under domestic law, you will not be subject to immigration control during your detention.
  • Home Office UKVI may have detained you because of an illegal immigration decision made by the Home Office UKVI regarding your immigration request for leave to stay. This decision was later overturned by the immigration court.
  • If you were held by the Home Office UKVI while your removal from the UK wasn’t imminent, and you weren’t evading immigration control
  • You must be an unaccompanied minor when you are detained for immigration.Unaccompanied minors must be either under 18 years old or have had their age assessed.
  • If you are severely disabled at the time of your immigration detention
  • If you have an infectious disease or contagious condition at the time of your detention,
  • If you are 24 weeks or more pregnant when you are detained for immigration purposes;
  • If you have a mental disorder at the time of your detention,
  • You have been placed under Home Office UKVI detention if you need constant medical care
  • If you believe you are a victim to torture or trafficking, you can provide evidence.


This list is not complete and does not include all possible circumstances under which illegal detention of immigrants may be declared unlawful by the court. In these cases, damages may be awarded by court.

Unlawful Immigration Detention Claim - No Win, No Fee
Our team of experienced compensation solicitors is available to represent you in your unlawful immigrant detention case against the Home Office UKVI. No win, no fee representation is available in your claim against the Home Office UKVI in respect of your unlawful immigration detention. We will charge a success fee up to 25% of any compensation amount received from the Home Office UKVI.

What are the legal principles regarding illegal immigration detention?

The Claimant must prove that he was held in an unlawful immigration detention claim. Once detention has been established, the Home Office, UKVI (the Defendant), must show that it was legal in all circumstances.
Common law restricts the Secretary of State from exercising powers of detention. Woolf J (as he was at the time) set these limits in R v Durham Prison governor ex parte Hardial Singh [1984]1 WLR 704 (“the Hardial Singh principles”)
“First, the 1971 Act can only authorize detention if an individual is being held in one case pending the issuance of a deportation order and in the other pending his removal. It cannot be used to serve any other purpose. Second, the power to detain is intended to allow the machinery for deportation to operate. Therefore, the power to detain is impliedly limited to the period reasonably necessary to accomplish that purpose. The Secretary of state should not seek to exercise his powers of detention if it becomes apparent that he will not be able operate the machinery in the Act to remove persons who are to be deported within a reasonable time.

In the landmark judgement of R (Walumba Lumba & Kadian Mighty) against Secretary of State for Home Department [2011] UKSC 12, the Hardial Singh principles were unanimously accepted. This reiterated at paragraph 22 the correctness R (on application of 1 EWCA Civ 8888 in which Dyson LJ stated at paragraph [46]

  1. The SSHD must have a plan to deport the individual and can only use detention for that purpose.
  2. The deportee can only be held for the reasonable period in all circumstances.
  3. If the SSHD is unable to deport within a reasonable time, [s]he should cease seeking to exercise the power to detain.
  4. The Secretary should use reasonable diligence and expediency to remove the item.

Dyson LJ continued at paragraph “48” of I:
“It is impossible or desirable to compile an exhaustive list all circumstances that may be relevant to the question as to how long it is reasonable to the Secretary.”

The State may detain a person in the interim of deportation under paragraph 2(3) of Schedule 3 of the Immigration Act 1971. They include, however, at most:


  • The length of the detention period
  • The nature of obstacles that stand in the way of the Secretary-of-State preventing a deportation
  • The efficiency, speed, and diligence of the Secretary of State’s actions to overcome such obstacles.
  • The conditions under which the detained individual is kept.
  • The effects of his detention on him, his family
  • There is a possibility that he may abscond if he is released.
  • There is a risk that if he is released, he will be convicted of criminal offenses.


Michael Fordham QC, sitting as Deputy High-Court Judge in R(Muhammad v SSHD [2017] EWHC 755, (Admin), summarized the four Hardial Singh principles as follows:

  1. The purpose principle
  2. The duration principle
  3. The removability principle;
  4. The diligence principle.

What are the legal principles regarding damages for unlawful detention?

The cases now provide guidance on the appropriate levels of punishment for false imprisonment. These are the three main principles to keep in mind.


  1. It is important to consider the facts of each case and the extent of the injury suffered by each claimant when assessing damages.
  2. Damages should not only be calculated mechanically, but also a fixed figure for each day of imprisonment. It is important to adopt a global approach.
  3. Although the length of false imprisonment can make it more severe, the time that is attributable to increasing time should be reduced or moved on a decreasing scale. Two reasons are why this is important:
  • To keep this class of damages equal to those payable in personal injuries and possibly other cases;
  • Because of the shock caused by being detained, compensation for that initial shock will be higher than for the ongoing detention.

Thompson was given specific guidance (515D-F) by the court to state that in a “straightforward situation of wrongful imprisonment and arrest”, the starting point would be approximately PS500 for the first hour. A claimant wrongly held for more than 24 hours should normally be eligible for an award of around PS3,000. This case was decided over ten years ago. While it is important to remember that damages should not necessarily be determined mechanistically and to not overlook the imperative of not assessing damages in a straightforward manner, a claimant wrongly detained for 24 hours would normally be entitled to an award of about PS3,000.

Comparing quantum to cases that were decided before the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 came into force on 1 April 2013, the Declaration of the Court of Appeal would be around PS1,000 for the first hour and PS6,000 if wrongful detention of 24 or more hours in July 2019.

What factors are likely to increase the damage?

The following factors are likely to increase damages for illegal immigration detention.

  • Initial shock at detention
  • Claimant with particular vulnerability – e.g. Person with mental health issues, torture victim, child, victim or trafficking victim. Even if the aggravated damage threshold is not met, this factor will still be considered in the basic damages award.
  • Inadequate behavior by the state after initial detention, or in response to subsequent conduct;
  • Effect on Claimant (e.g. mental health deterioration) and others (e.g.
  • children);
  • Claimant is of good character and has suffered reputational damage
  • High-handed treatment, e.g. Handcuffs are used unnecessarily to deny phone calls;
  • Combining illegal detention and unlawful removal is unlawful.

A 10% increase in damages was caused by changes in litigation funding resulting from the Jackson reforms. This meant that success fees could no longer be paid in cost.

  • Personal injury: Pain, suffering, and loss of amenity
  • nuisance;
  • defamation;
  • All other torts that cause distress, inconvenience, or suffering to an individual.

These factors will likely reduce the damage for illegal immigration detention

  • Litigation risk, if settling. The amount of damages that a Claimant can get if he is successful in court will be usually less than what he has agreed to.
  • Lawful detention is illegal after a period of legal detention. This is because the “initial surprise” factor has been absent. The more prolonged the period of lawful imprisonment compared to unlawful detention, then the greater the potential damage it will have.
  • Tapering effect: The detention shock and the first 24 hours are most likely to cause the greatest damages. The Shaw Report also shows that there is evidence that the tapering effect in unlawful detention is limited. This is because, unlike for prisoners with determinate sentences where the tapering effect is limitable, the effects detention has on immigrants detained actually gets worse as time goes by due to uncertainty about an end date.
  • The duration and conditions of detention are primarily attributable to the conduct of the claimant. See e.g. hunger strikes.



Spouse Visa applications are complex. It is best to consult an immigration specialist before you apply. Before you submit your application, you will need to make sure you meet the required requirements.

Fill out the appropriate forms and gather your evidence to submit. These forms should be comprehensive and show that you are serious about your relationship.

Also, you must not book travel until you have received a decision by the Home Office.

MCR Solicitors is a reputable law firm with a track record of successful cases. Our lawyers are also highly skilled in this area. For professional advice and no obligation, contact MCR Solicitors online.

No, you do not have to meet the English language requirement and financial requirement for extension of spouse visa under 10 years route.


The most common reasons for refusal of spouse visa renewal under 5 years route include the following:

  • Not meeting the financial requirement;
  • Not meeting the English language requirement;
  • Home Office UKVI not satisfied that the relationship with the British or settled spouse is still subsisting;
  • General grounds for refusal such as allegation by the Home Office UKVI of applicant using proxy for TOEIC test previously, making false representations, etc.

Your spouse’s or partner’s income can not be considered as part of your financial obligation unless they are legally allowed to work and live in the UK. The financial requirement can then be calculated based on household income.

Contact our team if you have any questions about how the law has changed in recent years.

You can appeal against a letter stating that your Spouse Visa has been denied. You will be informed by your letter of refusal if you are eligible for appeal. If you are eligible, you can submit additional evidence.

You will need to quickly appeal the decision or apply to another permit if you’re already in the UK. Avoiding the temptation to extend an expired status in immigration can lead to serious problems.