Home Office can now serve notices by email

The Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Upper Tribunal has, in the case of R (on the application of Mahmood) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (effective service – 2000 Order) IJR [2016] UKUT 57 (IAC), ruled that the Home Office can serve immigration notices on individuals by email. In addition the Tribunal held that not having access to the email address provided to the Home Office will also not be an acceptable excuse which will defeat lawful service. Presumably the same logic would also apply to someone who does not check their email account after providing it to the Home Office.

In this particular case the Tribunal (Upper Tribunal Judge Grubb) ruled that a Home Office notice curtailing (i.e. cutting short) an individual’s visa was lawfully served on him even though it was merely sent to the email address noted in his last (rejected) visa application.

Judge Grubb stated:

In my judgment, for the reasons I have given, notice of the curtailment decision was “given” to the applicant when it was sent by e-mail on 1 October 2013 and delivered in his e-mail system presumptively on that date. The applicant is entitled to rebut the presumption under Art 8ZB(1)(b) that it was delivered on that day or at all. He is unable to do so. The fact that he claims that he has no access to this e-mail account because it was set up by his agent and he does not have a password does not defeat that conclusion. The e-mail address he provided was the address at which he should have expected the UKVI to correspond with him. Any harshness is, in large measure, of his own making, as he had given this e-mail address as a correspondence address in his visa application and had made no efforts, at least before the curtailment decision was made, to provide the Home Office with an address to which he did have access.

This is an important, albeit negative, development in the law. Applicants who are not represented should therefore ensure that they correctly note their email account on their application form and regularly check the account after the application has been submitted by post.