BL (Jamaica) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 662 is an Immigration Law case concerning exceptional circumstances for deportation.
BL is a Jamaican who had been in the UK for the last 15 years with no leave to remain. He had a partner with whom he had three children. At the time of the deportation decision in 2013, his children were 7 years old (twins) and 5 years old accordingly.
He had committed various criminal offences. The most serious offence was being in possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply it. As a result, he received a four-year sentence.
His deportation order was made in 2013. He appealed against it. His appeal was decided by McCloskey J and UTJ Perkins. They allowed the appeal on the grounds that his deportation would “impact disproportionately on the best interests of his children, giving rise to an acute imbalance which the public interest favouring deportation cannot, outweigh”.
However, the Court of Appeal rejected this analysis. They argued the Upper Tribunal had failed to identify the exceptional circumstances of this case. This could be the basis of quashing the deportation order.
One of the step sons provided evidence in the Upper Tribunal. He argued that BL’s partner would not be able to handle her money. Also, arguing that she would drink excessively and descend into poverty. This would require them to get help from the social services.
However, the Court of Appeal considered that this evidence did not show the exceptional circumstances. It was also noted that BL’s partner had not required any assistance from social services while the applicant was in prison. They also criticised the Upper Tribunal for failing to consider the positive role that social services could play.
The Court of Appeal argued that the Upper Tribunal had to resolve how to balance BL’s Article 8 rights, where children are involved, with the public interest in deportation.
The principle question is whether there are any exceptional circumstances in BL (Jamaica) v SSHD which should not lead to the deportation of BL?
This is what paras 398 and 399A require, and MF (Nigeria) made it clear that these provisions are a complete code. Thus, the test was for exceptionality, that was not used in the reasoning of the Upper Tribunal on this case.
On this issue, the Upper Tribunal were right to apply MF (Nigeria) and SS (Nigeria). While the children’s best interests are a primary consideration, they need not be the primary consideration. However, in their analysis of SS (Nigeria), the Tribunal failed to refer to an important holding of the Court. This was balancing the best interests of the children with the public interest in deportation.
The Court held that the children’s interests are stronger and more pressing than the nature of the public interest in the parent’s removal. The more serious the offence is, the public interest will be greater, as argued at para 47 in SS (Nigeria).
References:  EWCA Civ 662,  EWCA Civ 357,  4 WLUK 216