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Public Policy and the Administrative Government of Unlawful Detention: The Landmark Case of Lumba and Mighty

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This article critically analyses the landmark case of wl (Congo) 1 & 2 v. sshd; km (Jamaica) v. sshd [2011] uksc 12 (Lumba and Mighty) which examined whether certain breaches of public policy and law were capable of rendering unlawful the detention of foreign national prisoners pending their deportation under the Immigration Act 1971. The liability finding in this case is a welcome reminder of the critical role that the Courts can play in this field of litigation as well as the great difficulty within which they are placed. Yet the award of nominal damages not only dilutes the significance of the nature of liberty as a fundamental right, but forces the Court into having to read down its role along the lines of a managerial logic of immigration control which has increasingly displaced a principled approach to immigration law and policy.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Kent, UK,


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