Challenging Immigration Detention: Immigration Bail for Tennis’s World Number One

Last month, Novak Djokovic flew to Australia to take part in the Australian Open tennis tournament. Upon arrival, the world number one was refused entry clearance and found himself transferred into immigration detention for failing to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements.

At present, Australia has strict entry and quarantine requirements. Djokovic is allegedly not vaccinated against Covid-19 and border officials queried the validity of his medical exemption, and subsequently cancelled his visa. This was challenged by Djokovic’s legal team, successfully at first, which led to his release from the hotel where he was detained alongside a number of asylum seekers.

This was until a three-judge panel overturned the decision and sided with the Australian government who maintained that his presence in Australia risked fuelling anti-vaccine sentiment. At which point, Djokovic became liable for removal.

This was an interesting case study for UK immigration lawyers, as Djokovic’s ordeal – described as “torture” by his mother – temporarily brought immigration detention to the headlines.

In the UK, an individual may be detained while they await permission to enter the UK or before they are deported or removed, and immigration bail exists as a way for people held in detention secure their release. Unlike in other European states, there is no time limit on how long someone can be detained in immigration detention in the UK.

Immigration bail can also be granted to an individual who has never been in detention, but who is subject to certain restrictions. This includes asylum seekers and those who have overstayed their visa. Examples of common conditions include the requirement to report to the Secretary of State or such other person as may be specified and prohibiting an individual from undertaking employment or study.

An individual placed in immigration detention on arrival in the UK can apply for bail on the day they arrive. At this point, they will be making representations to the Secretary of State detailing why they should be granted bail and they should attempt to provide supporting documents to substantiate their arguments.

Once they have been in the UK for at least eight days, an individual not granted bail by the Secretary of State can apply to an independent judge at the First Tier Tribunal for bail.

When deciding whether to grant an individual bail, the Secretary of State and First Tier Tribunal should consider a number of factors including: the likelihood of the individual failing to comply with a bail condition; whether they have any criminal convictions; the likelihood of them committing an offence while on bail; whether their presence in the UK while on bail could cause a danger to public health or threat to the maintenance of public order; whether their detention is necessary for the individual’s interests or for the protection of others; and any other factors that they think are relevant.

Curzon Green specialises in assisting individuals who find themselves in immigration detention and would like to apply for bail to secure their release. We offer full representation services for both Secretary of State and Tribunal bail. If you or your family member is currently detained or has been refused entry clearance, please get in contact with us at or call our offices on 02034439576 for our London Office and 01494451355 for our High Wycombe Office.


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