Immigration tribunal fees increase to continue despite opposition
21st Sep 2016
Plans for a 500% rise in fees for asylum and immigration tribunals are set to go ahead, despite overwhelming support for them to be scrapped.
Responding to a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation on the proposals, 142 of 147 parties disagreed with the move, the majority of whom cited that the large fee increases for first-tier tribunals would deny access to justice for vulnerable people wishing to challenge Home Office decisions.
In June the Justice Select Committee stated that raising immigration and asylum fees by 500%, before reviewing the impact of the implementation of employment tribunal fees, were ‘unwise’.
However, the prospect of receiving an estimated £37m per year as it is not ‘reasonable to expect the taxpayer to subsidise access to this tribunal’ appears to have won the day.
Under the proposed arrangement, those applying for an oral hearing will have to pay over six times the amount for a paper decision, from £80 to £490, while applicants for an oral hearing will pay £800, up from £140.
Applicants appealing to the first-tier tribunal for permission to appeal to the upper-tribunal will also be required to pay a fee (£455) for the first time.
Among those to be hit will be families making joint appeals, where the fee is payable by each family member. A family of five would have to pay £4,000, compared to the £800 fee for a single person, though both receive the same ‘service’.
Applicants to the upper tribunal will also be required to pay a fee (£350) for the first time, while those wishing to appeal must pay £510. Just ten of the 116 respondents agreed with this decision while the remaining 106 disagreed, citing concerns over access to justice.
The Law Society believes the MoJ could balance its books ‘by using the profits of up to 440 per cent generated by visa applications to fund the tribunal’, pointing to the profits of up to 440% received by the Home Office on visa applications before the fee-increases in March 2016.