P was given limited entry to the UK with benefits while her asylum claim was being determined by the home secretary. He rejected her claim and notified the benefits agency who discontinued paying her benefits, which they were entitled to do once a claim had been “determined”, as per the legislation. P found out about the rejection of her claim, but was never notified. She claimed that it was wrong to treat her claim as “determined” until she was told about it. HL allowed her claim, saying that it was a constitutional principle that an administrative decision that adversely affected a person had to be communicated to them before it could be a legal determination. Also, in the absence of express language or necessary implication to the contrary, general statutory words could not override fundamental rights and would be presumed by the court as intended to be subject to them.
Lord Bingham (dissenting): The statute allows for benefits to be stopped once an asylum seeker’s claim is “recorded by the Secretary of State as having been determined”. This is unambiguous- it doesn’t require that the issue actually be determined.
Lord Steyn: The right to be notified of a decision is simply about “access to justice”. Parliament hasn’t expressly legislated contrary to this right.
Lord Millett: Merely omitting to say whether or not an asylum seeker needs to be notified will not entitle the crown to argue that they do not have to notify the party, since it is a fundamental right and is therefore presumed.