Fast Track appeals process ultra vires but judgement stayed

The following is a press release from Detention Action:

The High Court has today declared the appeals process for asylum-seekers in detention to be unlawful. Mr Justice Nicol quashed the procedural rules governing the Detained Fast Track asylum process, under which appeals are processed according to severely truncated timescales.

However, despite this finding the judge nevertheless granted to the Lord Chancellor’s request to stay the ruling until his appeal is heard in the Court of Appeal, on the basis that for the order to take effect immediately would be ‘inconvenient’.

The judgement would mean that the Home Office would no longer be able to assign asylum-seekers to an accelerated appeals process in detention. Asylum-seekers would therefore no longer be detained throughout the asylum process simply for claiming asylum. But until the appeal is heard, asylum-seekers will continue to face an appeals system that has been found unlawful.

Detention Action is considering urgently appealing the order refusing the stay.

Mr Justice Nicol ruled that the Fast Track Rules ‘do incorporate structural unfairness. They put the Appellant at a serious procedural disadvantage… because his opponent in the appeal, the SSHD [Home Secretary], has decided that this is what should happen.’

He observed that ‘by allowing one party to the appeal to put the other at serious procedural disadvantage without sufficient judicial supervision, the Rules are not securing that justice be done or that the tribunal system is fair. [The Tribunal Procedures Committee] could not impinge on the minimum level of fairness or the irreducible minimum of due process bearing in mind the appropriate degree of fairness that asylum appeals require. For these reasons, in my judgment, the Fast Track Rules were ultra vires.’

Mr Justice Nicol concluded that this ‘looks uncomfortably akin to… sacrificing fairness on the altar of speed and convenience.’

The High Court has now three times found unlawfulness in the Detained Fast Track following legal challenges by Detention Action. The High Court first ruled in July 2014 that the operation of the Detained Fast Track was at the time unlawful.

Then, on 16th December 2014 the Court of Appeal found that the detention of asylum seekers who were not at risk of absconding whilst their appeals are pending was unlawful. Yet still the Fast Track continues.

Detention Action Director Jerome Phelps said:

‘We are pleased that the Fast Track appeals process has been found not just unlawful but ultra vires. But we are shocked and disappointed that a stay has been granted, given that this is an area of law requiring the highest standards of justice and fairness. By granting the stay, it appears that the judge considers that the severe potential consequences to asylum-seekers, including removal in breach of the Refugee Convention, are outweighed by the inconvenience to the Home Office and Lord Chancellor of suspending the process.’

William is a survivor of torture from Zimbabwe who was released from the Detained Fast Track earlier this year and has since received refugee status. He said:

‘I felt completely helpless throughout my time on the Detained Fast Track but especially during my appeal. It was like fighting someone when they have put you in chains. You cannot move but nothing is obstructing them. What does it say about the British justice system that the Fast Track is still up and running?’

The defendants in the case are the Lord Chancellor, the First Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal. Former Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling was responsible for overseeing the introduction of new rules for the Tribunals in September 2014. The Tribunal Procedures Committee, the judicial body responsible for drafting the new rules, had initially considered that the Fast Track Rules should be abolished as they risked creating injustice. However, following objections from the Home Office, the TPC ultimately recommended only minor changes.

For interviews and further information, please contact Jerome Phelps on 07906 813716 / jerome@detentionaction.org.uk



Notes to editors

· The Detained Fast Track is a process for deciding asylum claims whilst the asylum-seeker is in detention. It is designed for asylum claims that are considered to be suitable for a quick decision.

· Since 2008, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed concern about the operation of the UK’s Detained Fast Track process in published audits of the DFT.

· 4,286 asylum-seekers were detained on the Fast Track in 2013, an increase of 73% on 2012. 31,433 people claimed asylum in the UK in 2013.

· Detention Action is a charity working with people held in immigration detention and campaigning for detention reform.

· Nathalie Lieven QC and Charlotte Kilroy, instructed by the Migrants’ Law Project, represent Detention Action.

Family and General - Call for evidence - deadline 19th June 2015

15.06.12 - JCWI - call for docs

Right to Rent - Urgent Call for Evidence

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants needs to speak to families with children who have been affected by the Family Migration Rules:

‘We have received information that the Home Office are rolling up their evaluation now, contrary to previous statements, and are aiming for a national roll-out of the Right to Rent scheme in the autumn. It is our view that they will therefore probably put their evidence to the advisory panel before the summer recess.

This has changed our timeframe somewhat and we have decided that instead of an interim report at the end of June we will now aim to get the substantial report out before the 21 July summer recess.

We therefore urgently need all evidence collated so far that can feed into the report sent to policy@jcwi.org.uk before the end of this month. We will then put together the report and circulate a draft to partner organisations.

We understand that many of the perceived impacts may not be quantifiable. In this case, please you can send a statement from you/ your organisation.

If you have not seen a direct impact from the scheme on your service users, but you are nonetheless worried about the implication of a national roll-out, please send us a statement regarding the potential impact on your service users. We can also include anonymised statements if people/organisations do not want to be named.

We will keep the survey open for longer-term impacts and if more evidence feeds through over the summer months we may publish another report in the autumn. However, now that we know that they are pressing ahead and the Home Office evaluation will most probably be a whitewash we really need to push ahead ourselves.’

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Seraphus is a 2015 M&A Awards winner

Acquisition International Magazine made the following announcement:

‘Seraphus is a proud winner of one of our 2015 M&A Awards! Congratulations!

It’s been a truly amazing year, with M&A activity on the rise and industry professionals across the world continuing to excel in their respective fields. With this in mind and with so many worthy nominees competing for a coveted place on our winners list, it is an honour to name your firm:

Most Innovative Immigration Firm - UK

The Acquisition International M&A Awards celebrate dedication, skill and outstanding results from individuals, teams and firms across the corporate world. Throughout this year’s awards process, we have been immensely impressed with all of the nominees and are proud to reward each and every one of our successful entrants with the recognition they deserve.’

Seraphus would like to thank all those who voted us in the category of most innovative immigration firm UK.