Bindmans is acting for a group of people who were falsely accused by the Home Office of cheating on their Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) and suffered significant losses as a result.
Since 2014, around 35,000 former international students have been told to leave the UK on the basis that they cheated on TOEIC English language tests. Those who remained in the UK to try to clear their names have been subjected to the full force of the hostile environment including loss of the rights to study, work and rent accommodation.
Many have lost huge sums of money, most are suffering with depression and anxiety, and the problems have caused some to become estranged from family in their countries of origin.
It is a fact that many people were unjustly accused: over 4,000 people have so far been vindicated by challenging the Home Office in the tribunals and Courts, including many Bindmans clients. We know that many more will be found innocent in the future. The decision-making system itself has been the subject of powerful criticisms by the National Audit Office and Parliamentary groups.
Exoneration is an immense relief, but it is not a remedy for the six years of lost youth, damaged relationships, and mental health damage that the victims of the TOEIC scandal have experienced because of the Home Office’s actions. Some may also have been detained pending deportation when there was no legal basis for this action.
What can the law do about this?
Whilst there has never been a scandal quite like this before, there are legal remedies available for human rights breaches and other ‘torts’ (legal wrongs identified in statutes or developed by the Courts as part of the common law) for some of the resulting injustices. If these torts can be established, compensation may be awarded that would allow affected students to repay the often substantial debts they have accrued, and to start the difficult process of rebuilding their lives.
Bindmans is currently investigating compensation claims on behalf of those who can show they were falsely accused of cheating on a TOEIC test and have suffered significant financial losses as a result. If you would like to speak to a member of our team regarding a potential claim, please email us.
What are the time limits?
There are different deadlines for bringing different types of legal case. The courts have the power to extend time limits, but it is exercised very sparingly and if at all possible claims should be brought within the normal limitation periods.
If you believe you might have a claim, we recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible so action can ideally be taken to protect your rights. Legal action should normally be taken within:
- one year of the Court or tribunal’s decision that you did not cheat on the test; and
- six years of the date on which the Home Office first took action against you.
Will I get Legal Aid?
Legal Aid is government funding to meet the costs of legal advice and representation.
Legal Aid may be available for your case. You must be financially eligible, there must be no-one else you can realistically turn to for help with costs and your case must have good enough chances of success.
If you believe you may have a claim and would like us to investigate, we will advise you on your eligibility for Legal Aid. Please email us.
Surely there will be a Government compensation scheme?
There are some similarities between what happened to students falsely accused of cheating on TOEIC tests and the Windrush scandal, though many things are different too. With Windrush, the Government gave an apology of sorts and decided to set up a compensation scheme to cover some losses (which has since been widely criticized, including for the ongoing delays in making payments).
There has been no indication that the Home Office is interested in taking similar action to help TOEIC scandal students and the remote possibility that might happen in future will not be a good reason for delaying taking legal action now. If you can show you were unjustly accused of cheating on your TOEIC case, have suffered substantial losses and want to think about a claim, then do take legal advice now.
If you would like to speak to a member of our team regarding a potential claim, please email us.
Have you been a victim of the TOEIC scandal? We have launched the TOEIC Justice Project to provide you with the information, resources, and support you need to help with your fight for justice.