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New Law Society practice note: Statutory defences available to asylum seekers charged with document offences


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On 10 December 2015, just very shortly before the referral of two solicitors to the Solicitor Regulation Authority by the Court of Appeal in Re Shabani [2015] EWCA Crim 1924 (22 July 2015 but only published late in 2015), the Law Society issued a new practice note on Statutory defences available to asylum seekers charged with document offences. It is aimed at criminal practitioners:

This practice note is for criminal defence practitioners representing clients who have been charged, or may be charged, with document offences relating to their entry into the UK or their failure to have with them an immigration document at a leave or asylum interview.

Let us hope it helps to raise awareness of these defences. Unfortunately, the note does not cover non statutory defences based on the House of Lords case of R v Asfaw [2008] UKHL 31, discussed here on Free Movement. The team representing Abdul Haroun, the man who walked the Channel Tunnel, seem to have been on their toes, though, and are reported to have been running an abuse of process argument.

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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.