26th February 2016
Khe chare (Pashto)

It's over.  Almost certainly, one of the most anticipated Supreme Court cases ever, was heard over three days this week.  A huge shout out to all our members who made the effort to come to the hearing, some even with kids in tow, and the many many more who were following the arguments online, on the SC website and twitter using the #MMcase.   The legal team has asked me to especially pass on their gratitude for all your support - your speaking out has helped formulate key arguments.

Lady Hale, one of the seven judges sitting on this case, said it will be 'some time' before the judgment is handed down, no doubt because of the volume of documentation to work through.  I suspect it will be at least several months before we have a decision on the MM case, although a complete judgment on Bibi (the English Language Test) may be handed down soon, which could provide an insight into MM as Lady Hale indicated they wanted to wait to hear the evidence in this hearing since many of the issues were similar (family life etc) and the judges understandably wish to avoid inconsistencies.

Overall I think the hearing went very well - the first day seemed like a hit for the HO, though the arguments made by the MM team, Manjit Gill QC and Richard Drabble QC, clearly played a part as on days two and three the judges questions and comments directed towards the HO side suggested to me that they could see the same problems with the rules, guidance and application that we have known for nearly four years now.

I hope to write-up a review of the hearing just as soon as the batteries are recharged. In the meantime, some highlights from my notes below.  However I strongly recommend you watch the webcast (and ensure you display images in this email to see the wonderful sketch from during the hearing.)

Mark Stokes. long-time BritCits volunteer, shares his sketch of the inside of the courtroom. Keep an eye here, for more such images which will be updated as and when Mark's thumb (broken glass accident!) allows him to. We wish Mark a speedy recovery.

I'll be providing some highlights of the case over the next few weeks.  Have decided to start with Day 3 as it was the best. day. ever. I never thought a hearing could be as entertaining as this day was.  You can get an idea of more views from those who have watched the hearing - mine and others - by searching for #MMcase on twitter.

- HO referred court to comments made by some SC judges in Bibi, but excluded Lady Hale. Much laughter when Lady Hale joked about feeling 'deeply insulted' at HO not giving weight to her views, to which HO replied 'you didn't say anything enormously us'.

- Theresa May it was confirmed, has been personally involved in policy formation.  Surpriiiiiiiiiise!

- Lord Kerr mentioned Home Office's lawyer, Lisa Giovanetti QC (LG) had been answering many questions, so didn't want to add to the burden....immediately going on to ask a question :)

- Lady Hale asked whether HO took MAC's offer to explore how MIR would alter if partner's income was allowed for.  HO couldn't provide evidence of this, just said prospective income not reliable.  Lord Kerr cited example of Canadian with a confirmed job offer at UK university.  Judges weren't impressed with LG's  response that this person, potentially a spouse and parent to British citizens, could come in on an employment visa! 

- At times the silence from LG not being able to answer the question to the judges' satisfaction was very uncomfortable.  While it is a bit mean to take pleasure in someone else's misery, not being able to justify HO excluding spouse's income, but using that devising the rules took 17 months, and hence they couldn't bring in all evidence for judges to have fuller picture else it would be 'boxes and boxes' in court, was an obviously lame excuse.

- Lady Hale: at being told no guidance on taking into account best interest of British children to be in the UK as part of a united family, rather than separate family,  bellowed that being in the UK was their fundamental right.  She in this discussion, looked super pissed at excuses given for the omission, such as as living in UK was a choice, and the complete ignorance of the Immigration Act 1971.

In the course of a very difficult morning for LG, Lady Hale asked her how she was doing. Her response 'as well as I can in the circumstances' drew what appeared to be compassionate laughter, in understanding of the difficult position LG was in, in trying to defend the indefensible in my view!. 

More highlights to come next week. Some so good, worth waiting for, I promise. 


Jessica Elgot reported on the first day's events for the Guardian, leading with the MM lawyers telling the court that absurd visa rules are forcing citizens into exile.

Our very own member, Wes White, who attended all three days of the hearing, spoke about how he is being forced to relocate from Glastonbury to London, simply for an £18,600 job, which with a higher cost of living is likely to not lead Wes to be any better off financially, thus laying false to the HO's claim that the purpose of the rules is to ensure those who want to make a life in the UK can afford to do so.

A legal blog has disappointed as it refers to "sneaky couples", "craftily devised" and "dodgy legal loophole".  I couldn't help but comment to tell them how I felt about the insensitive and incorrect reporting - given this was written by a person with a legal background and aimed at laywers, particularly disappointing.

A fascinating insight into the workings of the Supreme Court, with a reference to the MM case, by one of the Judicial Assistants (incidentally, the SC is hiring so if you fit the criteria, it seems like quite an experience and suspect pays over £18,600).

Two researchers who have done a lot of research showing the failings of the rules, Dr Helena Wray and Eleonore Koffman, consider the MM evidence.


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