Immigration Detention & Migrant Rights

The focus of Bhatt Murphy’s immigration detention and migrant rights work is holding those in power to account and obtaining redress for migrants who are wrongly detained, held in poor conditions or unlawfully affected by the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policies.

We act for individuals in civil claims for compensation, judicial reviews and inquests / inquiries; and NGOs as claimant or intervenors in judicial reviews. Our immigration detention and migrant rights work includes:

  • Compensation claims when detention has been unlawful, or where conditions of detention have been very poor.
  • Judicial reviews that seek release of migrants unlawfully held in immigration removal centres and prisons.
  • Inquests and compensation claims on behalf of bereaved families, where migrants have died in detention and in other situations where article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) is engaged.
  • Judicial reviews on behalf of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable migrants in mainland Europe, particularly Calais, to secure resettlement with their families in the UK.
  • Judicial reviews and compensation claims on behalf of the Windrush generation and their families together with other victims of hostile environment policies, for example those who are wrongly subject to NHS charging or restrictions on their right to work or study.
  • Criminal appeals and compensation claims on behalf of refugees and trafficking victims who have been wrongly convicted.
  • Challenges to citizenship decisions taken on national security grounds.

We advise on pursuing matters to the European Court of Human Rights when remedies in the UK have been exhausted.

We have developed unrivalled expertise in civil claims for compensation for individuals and families affected by immigration detention and hostile environment measures. We ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved for our clients and we are committed to ensuring that our clients keep any financial compensation awarded (for example, we will not take a ‘success fee’ where we act under a conditional fee agreement (CFA) and in legal aid cases we are proud of our record of ensuring that deductions are not made through the ‘statutory charge’).

We are committed to acting for migrants and their families irrespective of their financial position. We will seek legal aid where it is available and may be able to act on a CFA where it is not. We have extensive experience securing cost protection for NGO claimants and intervenors.

We are proud to work alongside sister organisations, both in the United Kingdom and around the world, in upholding the rights of migrants subject to detention and discriminatory immigration laws. We take a holistic approach to cases, working closely with immigration solicitors and others assisting clients. We seek to use learning from our casework to achieve changes to policies and legislation that benefit migrants and their families by participating in consultations and inquiries. For example, the team recently drafted submissions to Parliamentary and other inquiries concerning immigration detention, and consultations on redress for Windrush migrants . The team also writes regular legal updates on immigration detention for Legal Action magazine.

As well as our core work on civil compensation claims for individuals, highlights from our strategic work in recent years include:

  • A series of judicial reviews leading to reunification of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable migrants in Calais and Italy with their families in the UK.
  • Acting for bereaved families in inquests and civil proceedings, including the family of Jimmy Mubenga whose inquest found that he was unlawfully killed during a forcible deportation.
  • Acting for NGOs as claimant and intervenor in public interest cases, including for Medical Justice in two judicial reviews that successfully challenged the Home Office’s policy on detaining victims of torture.
  • Strategic challenges to the detention and use of force on pregnant women and families; and challenges to the separation of parents from children.
  • Establishing in a series of cases that conditions of immigration detention for mentally ill migrants were inhuman and degrading, breaching article 3 ECHR; and others that identified gaps in policies and protections for migrants who lack mental capacity.
  • Successfully appealing convictions of refugees for entering with false identity documents.

Our immigration detention and migrant rights specialists

Olivia AnnessHamish Arnott, Michela CariniaShamik DuttaJanet Farrell, Colin GregorySohini MehtaSophie NaftalinJane RyanMark Scott, Tori Sicher and Miri Weingarten.


We are very happy to receive enquiries from individuals, NGOs and others for cases that fall within our areas of expertise. Enquiries can be made by telephone or email; we also have a referral form which may assist with this process.
We endeavor to respond to queries promptly, particularly in urgent cases such as where an individual is currently detained or facing removal.

Please note that we do not assist with immigration and asylum applications or appeals, bail applications or migrant support applications or appeals. If for any reason we are unable to assist, we will try to put you in touch with someone who can. Bail for Immigration Detainees may be able to assist with bail; and the Asylum Support Appeals Project may be able to assist with appeals against Asylum Support decisions.


  • Immigration Detention
Photo Sarah Booker

"They are extremely professional, dedicated, willing to go the extra mile and determined to fight for the rights of the most vulnerable in society"

Chambers and Partners 2019