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Asylum Support Tribunal confirms jurisdiction to hear appeals in Bibby Stockholm cases


Destitute asylum seekers who are awaiting a decision on their asylum claims are entitled to asylum support (consisting of a subsistence allowance and accommodation) under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. That support is granted subject to conditions, including that the recipient will comply with directions given by the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”) as to where they are to reside.

In late 2023 three asylum seekers (AW, AM and BG) appealed to the Asylum Support Tribunal against the SSHD’s decisions to discontinue their asylum support due to their refusal to relocate to the Bibby Stockholm barge. The appeals were listed to be heard together as “lead cases” by the Tribunal’s Principal Judge on the basis that they gave rise to common issues of law, namely whether the Asylum Support Tribunal had jurisdiction to hear such appeals at all and, if so, the nature of the Tribunal’s appellate jurisdiction.

Principal Judge Storey has handed down a decision (AW, AM and BG v SSHD) that:

  • Confirms that the Tribunal does have jurisdiction to hear appeals against such decisions; and
  • Provides guidance as to both (i) what constitutes a “reasonable excuse” for refusing to relocate to the Bibby Stockholm (such that an appeal will be allowed and asylum support reinstated) and (ii) the factors that the SSHD must have regard to before he can lawfully determine that support should be discontinued in a particular case.

On the facts of the particular appeals, the Principal Judge allowed AW’s appeal (and substituted a decision that he remains entitled to asylum support) and remitted AM and BG’s appeals for the SSHD to properly re-take the relevant decisions.

AW, AM and BG v SSHD is available here.

Joshua Pemberton appeared (unled, pro bono) for the appellants, instructed by the Asylum Support Appeals Project.