The Detention Fast Track (DFT) process was set up in 2002 due to an increase in asylum applications.
In 2013, 2,288 asylum seekers were detained on the scheme. Asylum seekers considered suitable for a quick decision to be made by the Home Office on their status, awaited that decision for between ten days and two weeks in an immigration detention center. Those on the DFT procedure have no right of appeal in court or tribunal.
Handing down his judgement, Mr Justice Nicol said the Detained Fast Track procedure was "structurally unfair", putting the asylum seekers' appeal at a disadvantage because the Home Secretary has decided, "without sufficient judicial supervision" that this is what should happen.
"By allowing one party to appeal to put the other at serious procedural disadvantage without sufficient judicial supervision, the rules are not securing that justice be done or that the tribunal system is fair."
"This looks uncomfortably akin to sacrificing fairness on the altar of speed and convenience", the judge said.
The Court of Appeal previously ruled that the DFT process is unlawful on the grounds that "quick processing" cannot be justified. And now Mr Justice Nicol has ruled the system unlawful — but has put a stay on his order taking effect to allow the Lord Chancellor and Home Secretary time to appeal his decision.
The judge said: "In my judgement it is right that I should grant a stay pending an appeal (by the Lord Chancellor) to the Court of Appeal."
So, until the Lord Chancellor and the Home Secretary lodge their appeal, asylum seekers detained on the fast track program in Britain will continue to face an unlawful appeals process.
A plea by charity, Detention Action which campaigns for the rights of immigrants held in detention centers, for the judge to quash the system straight away was refused.
Fast-track story updated: Detention Action (rightly) considering urgent appeal over decision to stay the judgement http://t.co/oQOxomGdLi— Ian Dunt (@IanDunt) June 12, 2015
Detention Action can still ask the Court of Appeal to lift the stay. Director of the charity, Jerome Phelps said: "We are pleased that the fast track appeals process has been found not just unlawful by ultra vires [beyond the powers].
"But we are shocked and disappointed that a stay has been granted, given that this is an area of law requiring the highest standards of justice and fairness.
"Until the appeal is heard, asylum seekers will continue to face an appeals system that has been found unlawful."
A government spokesperson said:
"We are disappointed by this judgement and will be appealing. Detained fast track is an important part of our immigration system."
At the end of 2013 there were 23,070 pending asylum cases. Information from the Home Office reveals that many asylum seekers in Britain are from Pakistan, Iran and Sri Lanka. Followed by Syria, Eritrea, Albania, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria.