Watch the Supreme Court in Action

Sky News has launched live coverage of proceedings in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has four cameras installed in each of its three court rooms. So any ongoing court hearings and judgements can be watched live.

However, there will be occasions where the nature of the case means that coverage may not be suitable.

The court's hearings and judgements can now be watched live over the internet by clicking here.

European countries commit to take 300 refugees from Malta and 700 from North Africa

European countries pledged to relocate about 300 people from Malta, and to resettle about 700 people coming from Libya, Commissioner Malmstrom said. The commitment were made at a Pledging Conference on Relocation and Resettlement held in the margins of the Justice and Home Affairs extraordinary Council.

Pledges were reportedly made by Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hungary, Denmark, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

The UK Government decided not to accept any refugees who had managed to cross the Mediterranean fleeing turmoil in Libya. The Home Secretary said that the UK would not join the“burden sharing” scheme. This has been further confirmed by the deputy PM, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who, in contradiction to his comments detailed in our blog post found here, backed the decision not to open the borders. He said we would instead provide practical support directly in Italy. In a direct comparison, Ireland's Minister of State for Equality Kathleen Lynch said, “We believe it's a very good and worthwhile gesture in the circumstances. There are other countries with far greater resources than us who will be taking less.” A leading example from Ireland who are able to offer help despite their perilous economic position.

More when we have it.

Italy and the Detention of Migrants

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that Italy is in breach of EU law, and in particular the Returns Directive, by administering up to 4 years of imprisonment for third country nationals illegally staying in Italy who have received an order to leave.

Where the Returns Directive allows for the use of detention, it must always be for the purpose of enforcing a return decision. The detention period must be as short as possible, and never exceed 18 months.

The judgement can be found here.

Battle for the Soul of Europe

The free movement of people in Europe is underwritten by the Schengen Agreement, but EU governments are increasingly moving back towards immigration checks between their countries.

The removal of unfettered travel across the continent will be a blow to one of the cornerstones of a united, integrated Europe.

According to reports it is being pushed primarily by France and Italy, but supported by 15 of the 22 EU states signed up to Schengen.

What has triggered the attack on the Schengen Agreement is fear of another wave of Muslim immigrants from north Africa. But what it has done was to raise the profile of the populist right parties slowly developing in many EU countries.

The Costs of an Appeal

From October 2011 the Tribunal Service will start charging fees for immigration appeals.

Fees will be set at £80 for an appeal based on the papers, and £140 for an oral hearing. However, the consensus is that, once these rates are accepted, they fees are likely to increase over time.

Where a person asks for a paper hearing, but a judge requests a oral hearing, there will be no charge. A person can apply for a refund where the opposite occurs.

The fees will be restricted to the First-tier Tribunal, so no fees are currently planned for appeals in the Upper Tribunal.

The Tribunal may award these costs against the UK Border Agency if it was clear that they should have accepted the initial decision, and the appeal could have been avoided.

Those in receipt of NASS support, child support, and who qualify for legal aid, will be exempt. Also exempt are appeals regarding deportation, removal, revocation, deprivation of citizenship, humanitarian cases, and detained cases.

Changes to Points Based System Appeals

The UK Border Agency announced that from 23 May 2011 tribunals will not be allowed to consider evidence submitted after they have made a decision to refuse a Points Based System application.

The UKBA say that it will 'stop misuse of the system' and stop 'individuals to drag out their appeal by submitting new evidence at the last minute'. However, what was slightly glossed over (or actually ignored) was their poor decision making, and their failure, up to now, to avoid the appeals (and the costs of those appeals) by simply contacting the applications for the right evidence before making a decision. The UKBA now say they will do this from 23 May 2011.

The Commencement Order is expected to apply to all appeals heard for the first time against refusals under the PBS regardless of the date that the appeal was lodged.

This seems to be an abuse of the legal certainty principle, where grounds of appeal are changed without warning or notice. Particularly, as those who received negative decisions before 23 May 2011 would not have had UKBA caseowners contact them for further information / documents before making that decision. To then deny that information during their appeal is irrational. Also...

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Snippets of the Lords Depate on Legal Aid

The House of Lords had a debate (19.05.11) on the Government's plan to cut the legal aid budget by £350 million, thereby depriving hundreds of thousands from legal representation.

Lord Beecham began the debate by saying, 'The legal aid system was one of the great pillars of the post war welfare state.' He called the cuts 'draconian' and the Government's suggestion that mediation and voluntary organisations would fill the gap was wrong.

He went on to comment that the £1.2 billion budget has been frozen since 2003/4, despite a significant increase in the number of people helped. The taxpayer is getting a lot more for a lot less, but you can only squeeze so far.

Lord Thomas of Gresford pointed out that...

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Passenger Name Records

The Immigration Minister made a statement in the House of Commons on 11 May 2011 to confirm that the Government has decided to opt into the EU Directive on Passenger Name Records.

The justification for doing so was to assist law enforcement agencies to prevent, detect, and investigate terrorist and other criminal activities.

This means that passenger data collected by air carriers as part of the operation of their business will be collected and monitored by EU governments. Air carriers will not be required to collect any more data than they already collect as part of an ordinary business transaction.

The data...

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Detention of Asylum Seeking Children

The Deputy Prime Minister, as part of his speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the formation of the Refugee Council in the UK, said the policy of detaining children has stopped.

While, the Children's Society produced a new research report called ‘What Have I Done? The experiences of children and families in UK immigration detention' which examines the experiences of 32 families detained prior to the pledge to end the detention of children.

It emphasises the importance of safeguarding issues around the use of detention and the impact to children, some of the experiences collected include:

  • Children witnessing traumatic events, including hunger strikes and suicide attempts and the use of restraint on their parents.
  • High levels of stress, fear, confusion, and feelings of hopelessness and degradation experienced by family members in detention.
  • Many children did not eat, or lost weight, during detention. Families had medication removed upon arrival or missed important medical appointments as a consequence of detention. One child was detained for a second time despite suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after her first detention.
  • The majority of children experienced emotional distress during detention, including sleeplessness, nightmares and constant crying.
  • After release from detention, the majority of families experienced on-going and persistent effects on their mental and emotional health.

You can find the report, and more about the Children's Society, at their website here.

Deputy Prime Minister's speech to mark 60 year of the Refugee Council

The Deputy Prime Minister gave a keynote speech on 10 May 2011 to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the formation of the Refugee Council in the UK.

The DPM accepted that there is still more progress to be made, but praised the UK's role in human rights issues.

He hoped that the UK should aim for the 'most compassionate, efficient, dignified asylum system in the world.' He pointed out that half of asylum cases are now decided within a month, and promised to ensure the system is fair as it becomes faster.

He said that just as important as helping refugees was taking a stand against regimes that pose a threat to peace and restricts the liberty of their people — he highlighted Burma, North Korea, Libya and Syria.

Supporting the Poppy Project

On a blog post dated 12 October 2010 we provided details of an important support service for female survivors of trafficking called the Poppy Project.

Despite the importance of their work the UKBA is terminating the funding it provides for them. Instead it has awarded a contract to the Salvation Army, which means the Project’s funding is reduced by 90%.

They need to raise £1.8 million very year to keep providing high quality support and accommodation to women who have been trafficked for sexual or domestic exploitation, and their children.

You can help support them here.

Certificates of Approval to Marry

The Certificate of Approval to Marry Scheme was abolished on 9 May 2011.

The certificate of approval to marry requirement was introduced in February 2005 as part of a package of measures by the Government designed to deter persons without indefinite leave to remain from entering into marriages of convenience ('sham marriages') for immigration purposes.

The scheme required persons, who were subject to immigration control, did not hold indefinite leave and who wished to marry (other than in the Anglican Church) or register a civil partnership in the UK, to apply to UKBA for prior approval and pay a fee.

The Courts concluded the scheme to be an unlawful interference with the fundamental right to marry.

New Tier 4 Student Policy

Changes to Tier 4 have come into effect on 21 April 2011. The Government announced that the changes 'deliver a strong migration system which tackles immigration abuse, while allowing genuine students to study at genuine colleges.'

A UKBA summary of the changes are below.

Entry Requirements: Accreditation

All sponsors must have been accredited by either Ofsted and its devolved equivalents, QAA, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate or the Schools Inspection Service and all must become Highly Trusted Sponsors.

Sponsors will be required to achieve Highly Trusted Status by April 2012, and ... Read More...

Libyans in the UK

The UKBA accepts that Libyans in the UK may be unable to return due to the current situation in Libya. The UKBA asks that you keep proof of original travel plans as evidence of your intention to comply with your original visa requirements. They ask that you monitor the situation, and make arrangements to return as soon as it is safe to do so.

The UKBA does not, however, confirm how any future immigration applications will be considered if you are forced to overstay your leave. It is likely ... Read More...

Slough Immigration Aid Unit

The SIAU is a charity that provides specialist immigration advice to individuals and families in the Slough area. It is regulated by the OISC. In the absence of solicitors with a legal aid contract, the SIAU is one of the only places in Slough where those who cannot normally afford legal representation can get it for free.

As SIAU is a charity it survives purely on donations and grants for the majority of its funding. Representatives of SIAU will be walking to raise money for the unit during the London Legal Support Trust walk on 16 May 2011. If you would like to support that walk click here.

A8 Nationals and the Worker Registration Scheme

The UK Border Agency scheme to restrict work for A8 (Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak, and Slovenian) nationals ended on 01 May 2011. After 1 May 2011, A8 nationals will not be required to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate to confirm their right of residence. It will be open to A8 nationals, in the same way as other EU nationals, to ... Read More...

Changes to Tier 1

Tier 1 will now be restricted to all but entrepreneurs, investors and people of exceptional talent.

Investors who invest large sums of money will see their right to settle permanently in the UK sped up. Those who invest £5 million will be allowed to settle here after 3 years, and those investing £10 million or more will be allowed to settle after 2 years. This compares with ... Read More...

Ken Clarke v The European Court

Ken Clark, the Justice Secretary, speaking at the Council of Europe on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights said that the court should have greater regard for the decisions of domestic courts.

Clark said, ‘The UK has always been a strong supporter of the ECtHR. But at times the court has been rather too ready to substitute its own judgment for that of national courts, without giving enough weight to the strength of the domestic legal system, or allowing for genuine differences of national approach.'

The UK is ... Read More...