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Waiting for Godot


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royston_queueA few higher court immigration cases came out recently, on which I will post in due course. One was HG & Ors v SSHD [2008] EWHC 2685 (Admin), in which Mr Justice Underhill grappled with the Legacy backlog and the five year wait faced by many Legatees. In other related news, Phil Woolas recently claimed that the Home Office is on track to finish the exercise by summer 2011 and the Home Office have said they are aiming to complete all urgent cases by March 2010.

In HG, Underhill J held that generally there was nothing unlawful about the failure to decide priority cases sooner than March 2010. However, there is room for challenging a Home Office decision that a particular case does not fall within the ‘truly exceptional or compassionate cases’ priority category, which covers cases that have been ‘seriously mishandled’ or where there are ‘compelling compassionate circumstances’. Wanting to travel abroad to visit a seriously ill close relative falls within this category, but good medical evidence on the relative’s condition and illness is needed.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


10 Responses

  1. Why more staff can’t be taken on, or other resources be re-deployed to deal with the backlog more rapidly is a mystery to me.

    However, the mindset within the CRD (Case Work Resolution Directorate) is that it is quicker and easier to grant than to refuse, i.e. having to stand up a decision to very occasional internal audit as versus an Adjudicator in every case single case.

    In turn, a very generous atmosphere pervades within CRD, all be it for reasons of expediency rather than a change in attitude or culture.

    In the mean time, for those cases which are refused, POs are franticly reading up on delay / article 8 / legitimate expectations case law.

    Contrast this with the situation at NAM, where the case owners who are becoming more experienced and savvy with the law, are also becoming more cynical and hardened and thus have started to refuse a whole lot more – in turn pushing up the strain on the workload of the Tribunal and putting back many of the ‘legacy’ cases.

    Swings and roundabouts ? You tell me …..


  2. London HOPO, I agree that more resources would be helpful, but it is a relief to see clients granted status and finally allowed to work who are effectively now settled in the UK with children attending school.

    It is a shame if that is the way NAM is going. I was heavily involved in the initial training for the project and the case owners struck me as genuinely enthusiastic and passionate about their work. They were also far better qualified and educated than the decision makers they replaced, I believe, and even where I might criticise a modern reasons for refusal letter, at least they make sense now. As far as I know the grant rate remains far higher than under the previous system, though, so there is some way to go before it regresses quite that far.

  3. Alisha,

    My apologies, civil service tendency to over use acronyms.

    PO is short for Home Office Presenting Officer (HOPO’s) we are represent the government in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.


  4. Dear LondonHopo, regarding legacy cases, may you share your view on this> Cases that were allowed by Immigration Judges and upheld by Senior Immigration Judges 4 years ago, and now in the High Court – how can one convince the Legacy team to prioritise them? Zimbabwean cases allowed 4 years ago.

  5. Does this case refer to the ‘exceptional circumstances’ listed in the Home office Guidance “Case Resolution Directorate – Priorities and Exceptional Circumstances”, or does it relate solely to the situation where relatives are sick abroad, etc. (which is one of the situations listed within this policy)?

  6. Zimbabwean,

    I am not qualified as a lawyer who can represent those subject to Immigration Control; my job is to represent the Government in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.

    It would be irresponsible for me to comment on the merits of your case. If you don’t already have a lawyer, I would strongly suggest you get one (See links at the foot of this post, also note that you may be entitled to publicly funded representation depending on the merits of your case, so there is no harm in asking).

    That not withstanding, in cases where there is delay on the part of the Home Office, it may help if you (or your legal representative or Member of Parliament on your behalf) regularly chase the Home Office in writing, that you do so using recorded delivery and that you keep copies of these letters, in addition to proof of conveyance.

    Law Society

    Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner

    Immigration Advisory Service

    Refugee Legal Centre

    Sorry I can’t be of more help.