Commission expresses serious concerns about human rights implications of Serco judgment

Statement on Court of Session judgment in Ali v Serco and the Secretary of State for the Home Department  

The Scottish Human Rights Commission intervened in Ali v Serco and the Secretary of State for the Home Department setting out its analysis and concerns about the human rights issues raised.

Commenting on today’s judgment by the Inner House of the Court of Session, Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission said:

“We have serious concerns about the implications of this ruling, both for the people directly affected and for the protection of human rights more broadly.

“The court’s finding that Serco is not acting as a public authority in this context, and therefore is not bound by human rights legal obligations, has profound consequences for how people’s rights are protected when public services are delivered by private providers.

“This is an area of law that, in our view, requires further clarification. Governments should not be able to divest themselves of their human rights obligations by outsourcing the provision of public services. There is potential for further legal proceedings on this point and the Commission will consider the most appropriate next course of action.

“We welcome the court’s recognition of the need for sufficient procedural safeguards in situations where people are facing eviction from their homes. This is essential to protecting people’s right to a private, home and family life, and to protecting them from inhuman and degrading treatment.

“However, we remain concerned that people affected by this lock-change policy, who are already in a precarious and vulnerable situation, face an unnecessarily heavy burden when it comes to accessing their human rights.

“The Commission will now reflect further on the detail of the judgment and consider how best to address the ongoing human rights issues involved in this and related cases.”