Rushing immigration detention appeals inherently unfair

Government proposals to curtail the timeline for appeals by people held in immigration detention centres could lead to injustices, the Law Society of England and Wales warned today.

"If people in immigration detention are forced to make appeals through a fast-track system there is a real risk of unjust decisions leading to people being removed from the UK unlawfully," Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said.

"Asylum and immigration claims may be complex and gathering evidence can take time. If the claimant is detained there are also significant barriers to consulting a solicitor.

"Accelerating the appeals process when there are so many unreliable initial decisions by the Home Office risks riding roughshod over people's rights."

Many claims diverted to the fast-track would be on human rights grounds, and Home Office figures show 56% of appeals on these grounds succeed. Other claims would be for asylum where 41% of appeals are upheld.

"The Windrush crisis has shown how devastating an incorrect Home Office decision can be," Christina Blacklaws said.

"When the stakes for appellants are so high, the UK must maintain the highest standard of fairness and make every effort to ensure just decisions.

"There must be effective judicial oversight of asylum and immigration appeals. Quicker, fairer hearings can be achieved under the existing rules with a better resourced judiciary and court system."

Notes to editors

Interviews: To speak with someone with lived experience of the pre-2016 detained fast-track, contact Harriet Beaumont on 020 7320 5830 or harriet.beaumont@lawsociety.org.uk.

A fast-track system for appeals by people in immigration detention was ruled unlawful in 2015. The new proposals merely extend the fast-track ruled unlawful from 12 to 25-28 days, which still imposes an inappropriately restrictive schedule for the determination of often complex appeals.

Read the full consultation response 

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Harriet Beaumont | harriet.beaumont@lawsociety.org.uk | 020 8049 3854