‘A Practical Guide to Claims for Unlawful Detention and False Imprisonment in Immigration and Asylum Cases’ by Samina Iqbal


Paperback: 978-1-912687-97-8
Published: December 2020
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The terms “unlawful detention” and “false imprisonment” are often used interchangeably. Unlawful detention is commonly used to determine, in the context of immigration cases, whether the Secretary of State has acted without valid legal authority to detain an individual. However, false imprisonment refers to a situation under common law, which gives rise to a civil claim for damages. It is a strict liability tort and no demonstrable loss is needed to establish this. For the purposes of this guide the term unlawful detention will be used more generally. This guide will explore the mechanics of bail and where bail is refused, how to secure through judicial review if there has been an assessment that detention may be unlawful. In addition, where there is historic period of detention, this guide will look at how best to start a civil claim in the civil courts.

This guide will also help practitioners to navigate through the law and policies on detention and the important common law principles that have developed over time, to limit detention. These are now known as ‘Hardial Singh principles’. It hopes to provide some clarity on how to make an assessment as to the level of damages available and whether such a claim should be pursued if only ‘nominal damages’ are available.


Samina Iqbal is a senior public law and immigration practitioner with over 20 years’ experience, who also has a background in family law. Samina was also first appointed as a Fee-Paid Judge in the First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in 2006 and has subsequently been appointed to the Social Entitlement Chamber in 2018 and in 2017, as an Environment and Traffic Adjudicator.

She is committed to inspiring and training more junior women at the Bar, being acutely aware of gender disparities in the profession not just within the UK but also more pervasively in South-East Asia. She has been recognised for her selfless social activism and dedication; and was recently awarded ‘Champion of the Year’ for Inspirational Women in Law Awards 2020 and nominated as ‘International Pro Bono Barrister of the Year’ in the Advocate Bar Pro Bono Awards 2020.

Samina is a versatile lawyer, dynamic and fair. She is relentless in her pursuit of positive resolutions for her clients. Samina is a much sought after barrister, in her work for vulnerable women and has achieved ground breaking results for her clients and debunked various misconceptions on immigrants and those less fortunate than others within our society. She has also worked for unaccompanied minors and also specialises in complex business immigration cases. Also instructed in SIAC work and a recognised immigration expert in family proceedings.  Samina’s expertise in this area is underlined by the article she co-authored in the IANLJ, Family and Immigration Proceedings – treading the minefield for the practitioner” (IANLJ; vol 33, no 3, 2019, 240-258).

Samina has an extensive public law practice, with a particular expertise in immigration, nationality and asylum law.  Samina is committed to levelling the playing field throughout all echelons of society, intent on assisting vulnerable members who slip through the endemic and systemic cracks prevalent within our infrastructure, she is expanding her practice to include those who require assistance under community care law, equality and discrimination law, social welfare, mental health and capacity law.

More recently, Samina’s growing specialism has been in challenges to unlawful detention, crossing over with claims for damages in the civil courts. Her expertise and vast experience in this area means she is often considered by her instructing solicitors as the “go-to” person for such cases. She has also delivered extensive training seminars and webinars in this areas of the law.


Chapter 1 – Statutory Framework on Detention
Chapter 2 – Limits on Detention
Chapter 3 – Home Office Policies and Rules
Chapter 4 – Medical Assessments in Detention
Chapter 5 – Bail
Chapter 6 – Judicial Review – Unlawful Detention
Chapter 7 – Civil Claims for False Imprisonment
Chapter 8 – Damages
Appendix – Table of Cases Relating to Quantum