Supreme Court provides guidance on the significance of Refugee Status
12 February 2014
In IA v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 6, the Supreme Court has provided clarification on the weight to be accorded to an earlier grant of refugee status by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the context of asylum claims.
The Appellant, IA, left Iran for Iraq when he was 16 years old. IA applied for, and was granted, recognition as a refugee by the UNHCR in Iraq. He subsequently left Iraq and travelled to Turkey. He was again recognised as a refugee by the UNHCR. IA then travelled to the United Kingdom and applied for asylum.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department refused his application. The Appellant’s appeal to Immigration Judge Agnew was dismissed. She took the grant of refugee status by the UNHCR as a significant starting point, holding that clear and substantial grounds were needed to come to a different conclusion. However, on the facts of IA’s case, the Immigration Judge found such substantial grounds to exist.
The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court confirmed that decision makers must pay close attention to a grant of refugee status by UNHCR and substantial grounds would be required to move away from the finding. However, in the present case, the Immigration Judge had been entitled to reject the appeal on the evidence before her.
The case provides clear guidance on the importance of a grant of refugee status by the UNHCR and the circumstances in which a decision maker can depart from the finding.
Mark Lindsay QC and John MacGregor acted for the Secretary of State for the Home Department in successfully resisting the appeal. Dan Byrne, also of Axiom Advocates, acted for the Appellant.
The full judgment is available at: http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2014/6.html
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