Fewer asylum seekers may qualify under new regime

We need an immigration and asylum system that is fit for purpose, that treats people fairly and provides lawful, timely and consistent decisions, the Law Society of England and Wales said in response to proposals for a shake-up of asylum law.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said:

“Proposals to hike the standard of proof for asylum claims could mean far fewer would qualify under the new regime, significantly reducing the protection the UK offers those fleeing persecution.

“We will want to look at how the proposed two-tier system – which would treat refugees differently depending on how they arrived in this country – reflects the UK's obligations under international law.

“Any expansion of safe, legal routes for people fleeing persecution would be good news, but these must be established and shown to work, particularly as many legal routes ceased at the end of the Brexit transition period and have not been replaced. We would also be very glad to see increased legal support for people claiming asylum as well as more access to early advice.”

The asylum system is crippled by a huge backlog of cases, with 67% of claimants having waited more than six months for an initial decision according to the latest data. There is urgent need for an improvement in Home Office decision-making as evidenced by the high proportion of appeals that are upheld by judges, which stands at 44% for asylum as of December 2020.

I. Stephanie Boyce added:

“Errors and delays are a huge waste of public resources, as well as unfair to applicants who may have had to wait years for a decision.

“What is needed is to reduce the growing backlog of claims and improve Home Office decision-making.

“The Law Society will respond to the detail of proposals when we have considered and consulted our expert members who work in immigration and asylum. Justice and the rule of law must guide any changes.”

Notes to editor

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