The UK government extended the period of lockdown for a further three weeks yesterday. The immigration Tribunals have been affected by the lockdown, as have all other Courts in the UK. For many this means delay in their cases being heard and uncertainty for them, and their representatives, as to when and how these important appeals can take place. For many people the consequence of delay is serious: frequently people will have waited for lengthy periods of time for decisions on their cases, many of which involve asylum, or human rights issues and now they face further delay in having their appeal heard. They will be left in limbo and be left outside most areas of state support meaning hardship and destitution.
In answer to the current situation there have been changes to the rules for immigration hearings which will allow some cases to be decided by a judge without a hearing; or in other cases will allow the Tribunal to hold hearings by phone or video. Both options have their drawbacks as in the majority of immigration cases the ability for an appellant to have his/ her case presented and oral evidence to be heard is vital to the fair disposal of the appeal. We should beware accepting / agreeing to an appeal being decided with no hearing or a remote hearing as they are no substitute to a live hearing where a Judge can hear evidence directly from witnesses and complex legal arguments can be put forward by representatives. We may have to accept delay is a better guardian of access to justice than processes which dispense with live oral hearings.For information only.
Not intended to be immigration advice. Correct at time of publication.
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