United Kingdom: Decision rejecting indefinite leave to remain as victim of domestic violence overturned

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

On 18 February 2020, the High Court of England and Wales (the Court) published its judgment in the case of Suliman v Secretary of State [2020] EWHC 326 concerning a rejected application for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence.

The applicant, a Sudanese national, unsuccessfully made an application for asylum after arriving in the UK in 2005 and was subsequently removed to Sudan in 2010. During this time, the applicant met his wife, who he married in Sudan in 2010 before he was granted leave to enter the UK in 2013. In November 2017, the applicant was granted temporary leave to remain under the destitution domestic violence concession until March 2018. His application for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence was refused on the grounds that he did not meet all requirements of eligibility, namely that limited leave must have been granted as a partner of a British citizen, not as a spouse of a settled person. The applicant argued that he did not report domestic abuse to the police due to, inter alia, shame and fear that his wife would have him deported. The applicant complained that the Secretary of State’s analysis that the applicant had failed to demonstrate that his injuries were caused as a result of domestic violence by his wife was flawed.

The Court was satisfied that on the balance of probabilities, the claimant suffered and received treatment for injuries as a result of domestic violence. The Secretary of State’s conclusion that she was not satisfied that the injuries were caused by the applicant’s wife was therefore found to be flawed. In particular, the applicant’s reasoning as to why he had not told the police about the abuse, due to fear and shame, were deemed to be inherently plausible.

The Court held that fairness should have required the Secretary of State to address such evidence. Moreover, the Court noted the failure of the Secretary of State to reflect upon the evidence of witnesses at hospital who saw the applicant threatened by his wife. The Court allowed the appeal and ordered the original decision to be quashed.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is pusexblished but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.

Assessment of facts and circumstances
Credibility assessment
Individual assessment