Court of Appeal’s Rwanda judgment: 11KBW on both sides


The Court of Appeal (the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls and the Vice President) today handed down a landmark judgment concerning the lawfulness of the Government’s policy of relocating certain asylum seekers to Rwanda. See: R (AAA and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWCA Civ 745.

The Divisional Court (Lewis LJ and Swift J) held the Rwanda policy to be lawful. By a majority, the Court of Appeal reached the opposite conclusion, holding that Rwanda was not a safe country in relevant respects. In particular, deficiencies in the asylum system in Rwanda created substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk of Rwanda returning persons to their home countries, even where they would have valid asylum claims. That would be contrary to Article 3 ECHR. Accordingly, no person can presently be removed to Rwanda to have their asylum claim determined by the Rwandan authorities under the policy.

Other aspects of the claimants’ challenges were dismissed. These included a data protection argument, alleging unlawful transfers of personal data to Rwanda. The Government has indicated that it intends to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Christopher Knight acted for the lead AAA claimants, instructed by Duncan Lewis.
Robin Hopkins presented the Government’s case (on the data protection issue), alongside Lord Pannick KC and Sir James Eadie KC.