High Court Reviews Legality of Asylum Claim Decisions and Detention by Home Secretary

Citation: [2023] EWHC 2758 (Admin)
Judgment on


In the case of R (on the application of H) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department, the High Court scrutinizes the legality of decisions made by the Secretary of State concerning an asylum seeker’s claim and subsequent detention. Key legal principles such as the ‘clearly unfounded’ test, sufficiency of protection, internal relocation, and detention in accordance with the Hardial Singh principles are engaged in this decision. The judgment by Deputy High Court Judge Karen Ridge assessed the application of these principles, leading to a nuanced analysis of the Home Office’s decision-making process.

Key Facts

The Claimant, an Albanian citizen, appealed against the decisions of the Secretary of State to reject his asylum claim, certify it as ‘clearly unfounded’, and his detention from January to June 2023. His asylum was premised on fear of persecution due to a blood feud and his inability to repay a loan. The Secretary of State’s rejection was based on the availability of state protection or internal relocation in Albania. The Claimant also sought judicial review of his detention, arguing it was unlawful from April 2023 once his claim was certified as clearly unfounded and a pending judicial review was flagged.

Clearly Unfounded Test

The ‘clearly unfounded’ test derived from case law, notably ZT (Kosovo), mandates that if any reasonable doubt exists about the success of a claim, it cannot be considered as such. Only a single rational answer must prevail to classify a claim as clearly unfounded.

Sufficiency of Protection and Internal Relocation

Country guidance, particularly the Upper Tribunal’s decisions like EH (blood feuds) Albania CG, provide benchmarks for evaluating protection and relocation within a country. The assessment must cover several aspects including the history and intensity of the feud, police attitudes, and an individual’s vulnerability.


Principles stemming from Hardial Singh, and further articulated in cases like R (I), dictate the permissible contours of detention. They assert that detention must be for a reasonable period, and when it becomes clear the Secretary of State cannot effect deportation within that period, detention should not be resorted to.

Judicial Review and Decision Legality

Analysis of relevant precedents is crucial in evaluating the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s certification and detention decisions. Case law such as R (Lumba) and MH v SSHD influences considerations when assessing any public law errors in prior decisions affecting the legality of detention.


Ground 1

It was found arguable that departure from country guidance without sufficient justification may render the certification process flawed.

Ground 4

A view that internal relocation in Albania could not offer safety was deemed arguable, potentially impacting the certification of the claim as clearly unfounded.

Ground 6

It was concluded that there is an arguable case regarding the legality of the Claimant’s detention post-certification, as the decision to certify could be material to the decision to detain.

Grounds 5 & 7

While detention up to the certification of the claim could be seen as lawful (ground 5 not arguable), the ongoing detention after the disclosure of pending judicial review was considered potentially unnecessary and thus arguable (ground 7 arguable).


Deputy High Court Judge Karen Ridge’s judgment reveals a meticulous legal scrutiny of the decision-making by the Secretary of State in asylum cases. The importance of adherence to established legal principles and proper application of country guidance in determining the ‘clearly unfounded’ status of claims comes to the fore. Additionally, this analysis highlights the stringent conditions under which detention can be maintained. This case underscores the delicate balance courts must strike in upholding the rule of law, while safeguarding the rights of individuals seeking asylum, reinforcing the constitutional oversight role played by the judiciary in administrative actions.