The Supreme Court has made two high-profile decisions early in the new term. In R (on the application of Quila and Anor) v Home Secretary, it held the Home Office unlawfully raised the age threshold for marriage visas from 18 to 21 years.
The age was raised to deter forced marriages.The Court held that there was insufficient evidence that the change in the rules would have a substantial deterrent effect on forced marriages. ‘On any view the measure was a sledgehammer but the Secretary of State has not attempted to identify the size of the nut’. In AXA General Insurance v the Lord Advocate, the Court held that the Scottish Parliament had lawfully passed an Act which provided that asbestos-related pleural plaques constituted personal injuries which is actionable in Scottish law, thus reversing a 2007 decision of the House of Lords, Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co. Ltd which held that the mere presence of pleural plaques did not constitute injury which could give rise to a claim for damages. The Parliament had acted ‘not without reasonable foundation’ and the Act was not incompatible with the Human Rights Act.