High Court Decision in CX1 & Ors v Secretary of State for Defence & Anor Clarifies Interpretation of Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP)

Citation: [2024] EWHC 94 (Admin)
Judgment on

Introduction

In the recent High Court case of CX1 & Ors v Secretary of State for Defence & Anor [2024] EWHC 94 (Admin), a notable judicial review concerning the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), the court addressed several pertinent legal issues. This case revolved around Afghan nationals who were journalists, seeking relocation to the UK under ARAP. This article provides an analysis of the legal principles and the resulting decision, focusing on the adjudication of ARAP’s application and interpretation.

Key Facts

Claimants, known as CX1, CX2, CX4, CX6, and CX7, applied for relocation to the UK under ARAP but were initially denied. After a series of judicial review claims, the case centered on whether the claimants, particularly CX1 and CX6, met the criteria outlined in Categories 4 of ARAP, which concerns individuals who provided valuable services “in partnership with or closely supporting” UK government departments and contributed “substantively” to the UK’s objectives in Afghanistan.

The court applied several well-established legal principles concerning the interpretation of ARAP:

  1. Objective Interpretation of Policy: Following Mahad [2010] 1 WLR 48 and R(O) [2016] 1 WLR 1717, the court reiterated that when interpreting a policy like ARAP, it must consider the language used in the policy in its entirety, in light of relevant context and purpose.

  2. Conditions for Satisfaction of ARAP: Relying on previous judgments (e.g., LND [2023] EWHC 1795 (Admin)), the court acknowledged that conditions 1 and 2 of ARAP must be considered together, with condition 2 identified as more substantive. However, there is no requirement for the “goals” of the claimant’s employment or work to align with the UK government’s objectives, as ARAP necessitates a “substantive and positive contribution” to those objectives.

  3. Specificity of Claims in Applications: Lane J in CX1 and others (No 1) had suggested that journalists’ substantive activities that align with UK government activities could meet ARAP’s criteria. This case reinforces the need for specificity in applications to demonstrate alignment with UK government departments.

  4. Misapplication of Policy Principles: When administrative bodies misapply a policy by using wrong criteria, as occurred here when the goal, rather than contribution, was assessed, such misapplication is grounds for judicial review, irrespective of a rationality challenge, as per R(KA) [2023] 1 WLR 896.

Outcomes

The court decided as follows:

  1. CX2 was granted permission to withdraw his claim.
  2. CX4 and CX7’s claims were dismissed, as they could not establish how their employment or work satisfied Category 4, condition 1(c) of ARAP.
  3. CX1 and CX6’s cases had to be reconsidered as the court found the application of condition 2 to their cases by the FCDO to be incorrect. Decisions were to be quashed and remitted for redetermination.

Conclusion

The High Court’s meticulous appraisal of legal principles and application of policy underpins the decision in CX1 & Ors v Secretary of State for Defence & Anor [2024] EWHC 94 (Admin). This case underscores the significance of an objective and contextual reading of policies like ARAP, alongside the necessity for applicants to distinctly establish their eligibility under such programs. This case provides valuable guidance for interpreters of such policies, ensuring applicants’ contributions are evaluated correctly against policy objectives.

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