On 14 July 2015, in Sarkandi & Ors v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2015] EWCA Civ 687, the Court of Appeal rejected the appellants’ appeal against a High Court decision approving a closed material application (the use of secret evidence that one party cannot see) in the appellants’ challenge against their sanctions listing.

In judicial review proceedings before the High Court in July 2014, the claimants sought declaratory relief and damages for the Foreign Secretary’s decision to propose their addition to the EU’s Iran asset freeze and travel ban lists, on the basis that the Foreign Secretary had made errors of fact and law. The Foreign Secretary stated that it was unable to disclose evidence supporting its defence without causing serious harm to national security. As such, the Foreign Secretary made an application for the use of the closed material procedure. The High Court concluded that the statutory conditions had been met for such a procedure and allowed the application.

On appeal, the appellants submitted (i) that the Foreign Secretary would not be required to disclose the sensitive material as it was irrelevant and could not rationally be relied upon, and (ii) that such a ruling should be a measure of last resort as a closed material procedure is inherently and irremediably unfair. The Court of Appeal did not accept either of these submissions and dismissed the appeal.