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Report: UK Immigration Lawyers ‘Dishonest’ with ‘Culture of Rule-Breaking’

UK Border Agency Immigration and Asylum Home Office
Daniel Berehulak/Getty
LIAM DEACON

Dishonest and inept lawyers are undermining the UK’s justice system, with the immigration and asylum appeal system blighted by “widely reported deficiencies and a culture of non-compliance with the rules”, the authors of a new report said.

The regulation of legal help and advice given to migrants and asylum seekers is failing in many areas, the document by humans rights group Justice claims, calling on tribunals to intervene.

“A high percentage of successful appeals against Home Office decisions; instances of poor-quality and exploitative representation; and the recent removal of appeal rights have put pressure on a system that is already complex and subject to frequent change,” the summary reads.

The Immigration and Asylum Chamber for appeal against Home Office decisions, the report adds, “must systematically collect information about practitioners considered to provide poor-quality representation, as well as the outcome of cases and cases certified as totally without merit”.

There must also be a reduction in “unsupervised, unqualified and poor quality representatives purporting to provide advice and assistance to appellants through heightened scrutiny mechanisms”, the report said.

Tribunals should hold the suspect immigration lawyers and advisers to account and refer them to other bodies so they can face justice, the document recommends.

“During the course of our inquiry, we were troubled by examples we encountered of unsupervised and unqualified persons giving advice and assistance on immigration matters, representatives who had exploited vulnerable clients, and those who were incompetent and, in a few cases, dishonest,” it said.

Professor Sir Ross Cranston, Chairman of Justice, commented: “The Immigration and Asylum appeal system suffers from widely reported deficiencies and a culture of non-compliance with the rules and practice directions.

“This leads to high volumes of cases in the appeals system and lengthy delays.

“The Working Party recognised that the reforms underway present an opportunity to improve the processes, but considered that further measures are needed to effect meaningful change.”

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