JusticeWatch: Immigration rules double in length since 2010

Immigration rule changes ‘longer than Tolstoy’
The Home Office has made more than 5,700 changes to the immigration rules since 2010 making the visa system ‘nearly impossible to navigate’, reckoned the Guardian. ‘The rules have more than doubled in length to almost 375,000 words, resulting in a complex system which has been called “something of a disgrace” by Lord Justice Irwin and prompting a radical overhaul,’ it read.

‘One document was published in March 2014 with 22 changes, only to be superseded three days later by a second version containing another 250 changes. The overall number of changes made to the rules since 2010 spans almost 600,000 words, running to a length greater than Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace.’

Justice on the ground
John Hyde wrote in the Law Society’s Gazette about an afternoon spent in a court in North Wales where people were appealing against DWP decisions to remove their disability benefit. It was ‘difficult to think of a more brutal, miserable and wretched setting’ than the tribunal, he noted. ‘Desperate people, almost always fragile and in tears, must appear in front of a three-pronged panel which will decide whether they should receive extra state help,’ Hyde continued.

‘Neither claimant I watched going through this ordeal had a solicitor with them: one was flanked by a charity worker, the other appeared alone. She was a widow and felt so ashamed of the experience she hadn’t even told her daughter she was appearing before the tribunal. It was harrowing to watch, never mind experience first-hand. These were members of society who go unnoticed, largely trapped at home in their own intolerable lives.’
John Hyde

Hyde suggested ministers might visit such hearings ‘not staged tours of shiny new courts’ to see ‘justice on the ground’. ‘They should know that when they close a court, when they create a system which sends appeals soaring, or when they deny someone legal representation, there is a consequence,’ he argued.

The Gazette also reported that the Ministry of Justice has gone on a ‘hiring spree’ to bring the Public Defender Service back to ‘full strength’. Apparently, salaries for higher courts advocate ‘range from £49,309 to £79,956’.

Tweet of the week

LAA loses fee challenge in complex cases
The MoJ has lost another JR – this one review on fees in complex cases. According to the Legal Action Group, a defendant in a complex fraud case won a challenge on the amount of remuneration to be paid by the LAA to their choice of defence counsel (R (Ames) v Lord Chancellor [2018] EWHC 2250 (Admin)).

The defence lawyer Tony Edwards told LAG that the judgment showed that the process of fixing fees in VHCCs was open to judicial review ‘This is further confirmation that the LAA must be open and transparent in its dealings with the professions,’ he said.

‘This judgment demonstrates the difficulties the LAA has in setting fair remuneration in complex cases,’ said Vicky Ling, a consultant and co-editor of the LAG Legal Aid Handbook 2018/19. She believes the LAA has been ‘overtaken by technology’ in trying to grapple with setting fees to review large amounts of evidence held digitally.

Reality check
The Public Law Project has just published a briefing called ‘The gap between the legal aid means regulations and financial reality’ by Issac Richardson. You can download it here: https://publiclawproject.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Means_threshold_for_web.pdf

Every year the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) assesses the UK’s progress on implementing the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child for its ‘State of Children’s Rights in England’ report. ‘We would like to know where you think there has been any progress since the 2017 report, where the Government needs to do more, and where there has been retrogression in realising children’s rights,’ it says. ‘We would also welcome evidence on any new or emerging issues that you think we should draw attention to in this year’s report.’ More here.



About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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