WHEN the Court of Session ruled earlier this month that services company Serco had acted lawfully in seeking to evict a group of asylum seekers by changing the locks on their homes, Govan Law Centre’s principal solicitor Mike Dailly said it was “a truly sad day for human rights law in Scotland”.

He had brought the test case on behalf of Kurdish Iraqi national Shakar Ali after Serco, which until September was contracted by the Home Office to provide temporary accommodation to asylum seekers, made the lock-change move last year. The company had sought to evict around 300 people after their asylum applications were refused and the Home Office had stopped meeting the cost of housing them.

READ MORE: Court of session rules Serco asylum seeker evictions 'lawful'

Despite the Inner House’s ruling, which was delivered by Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, Mr Dailly remains convinced that the affected people’s human rights have been breached, which is why he is preparing to ask for permission to appeal the case to the UK Supreme Court.

If allowed, that case will look specifically at whether Lady Dorrian erred when she concluded that Serco, despite housing asylum seekers on the UK Government’s behalf, could not be classed as a public body and as such did not have to be bound by the terms of the Human Rights Act.

“The biggest surprise in all of this was that the second division of the Court of Session upheld the secretary of state for the home department’s cross-appeal,” Mr Dailly said.

“That said that Serco is not subject to the Human Rights Act because it doesn’t execute functions of a public nature; the Inner House said that Serco was acting in a private law capacity.

“We think that’s incorrect and we think it has really far-reaching implications because the UK and Scottish governments outsource some of their functions.

“The Inner House has said that what Serco was doing was akin to a private company providing services on the open market. We say that’s not the case: what Serco was doing was taking the place of central government by carrying out humanitarian services. The government has to provide accommodation for asylum seekers; there’s no open market and this was an outsourcing of that function.”

READ MORE: Hundreds protest asylum evictions as Serco vows to press ahead

Serco was first awarded a five-year contract to provide asylum seeker accommodation in Scotland in 2012, with the Home Office later extending that to September this year. Rival Mears Group won the tender to take over the contract in September, although Serco has retained responsibility for the properties where the lock-change notices are in place.

Serco has said that in light of the Court of Session judgment it will seek to progress those evictions in the coming months, with its chief operating officer Julia Rogers highlighting that the company had been footing the bill for housing failed asylum seekers after government funding was withdrawn.

“For some 18 months we have been supporting people whose asylum claims have failed, providing free accommodation and utilities,” she said.

“During this time Serco has been demonised and subject to extreme criticism, and the fact that we have spent millions of pounds supporting people who no longer have a right to remain in the UK and providing them with free accommodation, has been widely ignored.”

However, Mr Dailly stressed that classing the people affected as “failed asylum seekers” is an issue in itself, with many of the people Serco originally sought to evict having their asylum applications confirmed since the lock-change notices first began.

“As time has passed a chunk of people have been able to get their information together and their applications have been successful,” he said. “About 100 people have gone from being asylum seekers to successful refugees.”

READ MORE: Glasgow 'blindsided' as refugees face mass evictions

Although refugees would be required to move into new accommodation anyway, Mr Dailly said the fact that so many people have been able to overturn unsuccessful asylum applications calls into question the “failed” classification the evictions are being based on.

He added that if Govan Law Centre is given permission to take its case to the Supreme Court it and partner legal organisations Latta & Co, JustRight Scotland, Legal Services Agency and Shelter Scottish Housing Law Service may seek to recall interim interdicts that were secured to prevent any evictions taking place while the Court of Session proceedings were live.

“If we get permission it means we could argue that this is still being challenged,” he said.

Govan Law Centre has until December 10 to ask the Court of Session for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. If unsuccessful, it will go directly to the Supreme Court to ask permission.