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Law Society warns that tribunal fee increases will deny justice

10th Jun 2016

Proposed tribunal fee increases of more than 500% at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal would deny justice to people appealing Home Office decisions, the Law Society has warned.

Responding to proposals made by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Law Society president Jonathan Smithers stated that “Everyone should be able to access the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, irrespective of their financial means.”

“The tribunal’s role is to resolve disputes between individuals and the state that obviously will affect an individual’s life and future,” he continued to say.

Smithers then noted that “Access to justice for all through the tribunal must trump the “full cost recovery” imperative driving the MoJ’s proposal.”

Pointing out that a significant proportion of appeals that reach the tribunal are upheld, Smithers said the MoJ itself estimates that the tribunal fee increase would lead to a 20-40% drop in the number of appeals.

Families who are making joint appeals, where the tribunal fee is payable by each family member, will be hit particularly hard, he said, as a family of five would have to pay £4,000 in comparison to the £800 fee for a single person.

Smithers then pointed out that the impact of the fee increases will be disproportionately felt by people with protected characteristics, as the vast majority of immigration tribunal applicants are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

He proposed that the MoJ consider using the profits which are generated by visa applications to fund the tribunal, as it is an integral part of the process of ensuring the fairness in the visa system.