LBW

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Court Refuses EU Digital Only Challenge

Court throws out challenge to digital-only status for EU citizens


The High Court has issued a judgment refusing permission for a judicial review challenge to the government’s policy of giving digital-only proof of immigration status to millions of EU citizens. The case is R (The 3million Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department[2021] EWHC 1159 (Admin).

People granted pre-settled or settled status are not being issued with physical residence permits. Instead, their status exists in the ether. People can pull their individual proof of status out of a Home Office database using a “view and prove” service on gov.uk.

The claimants, a campaign group representing EU citizens, argue that this puts people unable to use the internet at a disadvantage. In particular, they point to old people, disabled people and Roma, who are particularly unlikely to be able to use the internet.

The problem for the case is that physical residence documents are still valid until 1 July 2021. The decision to go digital-only after that has not yet taken effect. As such, Mr Justice Linden found, the judicial review claim is “premature”. The looming digital-only policy is best characterised as “a continuing process of decision-making” and legal arguments about its discriminatory effect can only be considered when there is evidence about the impact on the ground.

While this particular case is dead in the water, the issue may well return to the Administrative Court in future.

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