Immigrants appealing through the courts for a right to remain in the UK will soon face a huge increase in procedural costs. A fee hike of over 500% has been announced for some types of appeals through the immigration and asylum tribunals.
Between April and June 2016, tribunals show 42 per cent of appeals to the First-tier succeeded, as did 32 per cent of those to the Upper Tribunal. But, only 22 per cent of unrepresented appellants win at the first stage, suggesting that at least some of those who lost appeals might have won with the help of a legal adviser.
“I think this action has been done by the government in purpose to prevent asylum seekers seeking justice. This can cause a huge problem when we are looking at how much we praise democracy” said Pegha Maysa Moulana a UK Young Ambassador at European Youth Forum.
This drive by the government is committed to reducing public spending and continue the work to mend the economy. It is fair that a greater proportion of the costs of courts and tribunals is borne by those who directly benefit from using them.
“It only tells us one thing: that the Government endorses discrimination and it tries its best at ‘taking back their borders’ by being inhuman to those who are in a vulnerable position. It is a sign of cowardice not power to hit the ones who are most in need. I am losing hope day by day with every Government measure on immigration issues,” said Ana Gabriela Popa, International Students’ Officer at the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union
It is also worth noting that there is no replacement for specialised legal advice, but because of legal aid cuts, more people seeking the right to remain in the UK are now forced to represent themselves.
Rachel Harvey, Immigration Solicitor, Cartwright King Solicitors said, “This will be even more costly to our clients and ultimately Judges will overturn the original decision. We appreciate that HMCTS requires funding which is the reason behind the Government’s decision. Indeed if it improves listing times (current time from lodging to hearing is around 9-12 months) then that could be one good thing to come out of this. The percentage rise is disproportionate, could restrict access to justice and is unfairly targeted at migrants.”
The current costs stand as follows:
- increasing the fee payable for an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) for a decision on the papers from £80 to £490 (600%) increase
- increasing the fee payable for an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) for an oral hearing from £140 to £800 (500%)
- introducing a fee of £455 for an application to the First-tier Tribunal for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal
- introducing a fee of £350 for an application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal in that Tribunal (where the application to the First-tier Tribunal has been refused)
- introducing an appeal fee in the Upper Tribunal of £510