Disappointing judgement in SERCO lock-change case

There is considerable concern that more asylum seekers will be made homeless after a Supreme Court judgment in Ali v v Serco and the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

The case against the Home Office and its contractor Serco was taken by two women in Glasgow who were told their locks would be changed and they would be evicted.

The private housing provider’s plans to evict more than 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow brought pressure and campaigning from across the city and Scotland. It was then forced to temporarily pause the action ahead of the court challenge.

However, the Supreme Court has now found that eviction of people in the asylum system without a court order is lawful. This is despite the fact that evictions without a court order are usually unlawful in Scotland.

The Court found that Serco is not acting as a public authority in this context, and therefore is not bound by human rights legal obligations. This raises significant concerns around protection of human rights. In response, Govan Law Centre who took the case said:

the effect of today’s ruling is that the UK Government can outsource is statutory and international legal obligations to a private company.  In effect that means one can “contract-out” of the 1998 Human Rights Act.’

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