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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Revolting minions

Home OfficeImage via Wikipedia
By freemovement

I’ve heard a couple of reports of dissent in different ranks this week.

Firstly, I’ve heard from two separate sources that UKBA is imposing a ’success’ rate of 85% on Home Office Presenting Officers, the officials who represent UKBA in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. By success I mean getting the appeal dismissed. This almost unbelievable move comes as part of the move to local immigration teams, and is apparently a requirement of the new Presenting Officer roles being created.

To their credit, many Presenting Officers are reportedly appalled by this target. Around 20% of appeals are successful according to official stats, so they need to beat the average. More importantly, though, this target entirely violates their position as officers of the court with a duty to the court. It also rather seems to contradict the claims of senior UKBA officials that Presenting Officers can concede cases and issues as well as adding new ones (we see a lot of the latter, very little of the former). The target is a clear incentive to press for appeals to be dismissed, even though any given appeal may on the law deserve to be allowed. What if a Presenting Officer ends up dealing with lots of Zimbabwean and Somali cases, for example?

I’d love to see the documentary evidence if anyone wants to email it in. I’d print a physical copy then scan it to avoid any electronic traces being retained.

The other minions to whom I referred in the title of the post are, believe it or not, Senior Immigration Judges. In the new unified tribunal there are two stages of asking for permission to appeal a first instance decision. Both decisions will apparently be made by SIJs, but only certain SIJs will be nominated or selected to decide the second-stage permission applications. How will this selection process take place? Does it create two tiers of SIJs? Will it create bad blood between SIJs (no-one likes to be appealed, after all)? Does anyone else have any sympathy?

The same will apparently apply with fresh claim JRs, to be heard within the new unified tribunal. These will only be heard and decided by specially selected SIJs.

Selected by whom, one has to ask? Will Mark Ockelton be hand-picking the judges as well as selecting all the reported determinations?

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