On 27 September 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) gave a judgment on Otite v. the United Kingdom (application no. 18339/19), concerning the expulsion of a Nigerian national. The applicant entered the United Kingdom (UK) as the spouse of a settled person and had been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain with no time limit; however, after a criminal conviction for a serious fraud offence, the applicant received a deportation order.
The UK authorities considered that it would not be unduly harsh for the applicant and his family (his wife and his three children, all British citizens) if he were to be deported. In its assessment, the ECtHR firstly acknowledged that the applicant’s deportation would constitute an interference with his rights under Article 8(1) of the Convention. Secondly, the Court noted that the deportation order was in accordance with the law and in pursuit of a legitimate aim (the prevention of crime) for the purposes of Article 8(2) ECHR. Consequently, the judgment focused on determining whether the deportation order struck a fair balance between the applicant’s Convention rights on the one hand and the community’s interests on the other.
In the case at hand, the ECtHR considered that the Upper Tribunal of the UK had given detailed consideration to the facts of the applicant’s case, and it did balance the seriousness of his offence against the likely impact on his family and private life. In addition, the domestic court had referred to several criteria identified by the ECtHR jurisprudence in the cases Boultif v. Switzerland (application no. 54273/00) and Üner v. the Netherlands (no. 46410/99). The Court further noted that the applicant had only spent eleven years at liberty in the United Kingdom, four of which engaging in criminal offending, and that it did not appear to have economically integrated in the UK. The Court also agreed with the domestic ruling that the fraud offence committed by the applicant was a serious crime. The Court indicated that in all decisions concerning children, their best interests have to be afforded “significant weight”, even if it did not consider them decisive.
For the above reasons, the Court concluded that the strength of the applicant’s family and private life in the United Kingdom does not outweigh the public interest in his deportation and accordingly found that his deportation would not violate Article 8 of the Convention.