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At Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre tribunal


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Me: Any idea how long the first case on the list might take?

Usher: Shouldn’t be long, there’s no lawyer for that one.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


7 Responses

  1. How sad. As these can be matters of life and death, everyone should be represented – particularly in a process made more unjust because of its speed. The implication that the case will not be given proper attention is chilling

    1. Valid point, but am I missing something? TM, DC & Co. killed poor Mr. Legal Aid. Lady fast Track ‘s remit is to finish up Joe Blogs who for very obvious reason cannot afford a lawyer or had no time to retain the services of one or been told by Jolly & Co solicitors that his case will not pass the merit test for controlled legal representation.

      Should learned Mr. Doasyouaretold have adjourned the case and insisted that Joe Blog should be represented even if pro bono in the wider interest of justice? An African poet once wrote “The firewood of this world is for only those who can take heart: That is why not all can gather it”.

  2. It has become more difficult for clients as they are unable to afford a representative in some respects and are forced to go in alone or, if lucky, accompanied by a McKenzie friend. It is particularly frustrating for BVC/BPTC/LPC graduates who work as paralegals in law firms who are experienced and would like to offer pro bono services in the Immigration Tribunal but are prohibited by the SRA Regulations from doing so even though the s.84(2) Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 states that a person can do so if under the supervision of a “qualified person” e.g. a Solicitor/Barrister.

    1. Presumably the paralegals could do the pro bono representation if willing to enrol with OISC (although I guess their organisation would need to do so too, which would cost something). I myself am a paralegal enrolled with OISC under the supervision of a solicitor and from the clients’ point of view my services are pro bono…although I probably wouldn’t go near a detained fast track case unless the poor appellant was already my client before detention (as has happened at least once).

  3. Unrepresented detained fast track appeals were always the most brutal asylum appeals I observed. There is nothing quite like it for administrative violence. Reminded me of Kafka’s The Trial perfectly: the impossibility of engaging with the system, and the bureaucratic processes, rituals and legalese that transformed the profound cruelty into the mundane. Horrible.

  4. The point is not just that they should be represented, but also that a hearing should not be a quick formality just because there is no rep. Judge has a duty to assist the appellant so that he can give his evidence and the interest of justice should require the judge to ask some questions to illicit evidence from the appellant.