Response to Immigration and Asylum Appeals: Proposals to Expedite Appeals by Immigration Detainees consultation
The Detained Fast Track (DFT) for asylum appeals in the tribunal was suspended in July 2015 after the courts decided that the rules that allowed them to be conducted at breakneck speed were unfair. The Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC) is the independent body responsible for making these rules and must ensure that fairness is not sacrificed for speed. In November 2015 the Government asked the TPC to reintroduce DFT rules because the system was not working. This was rejected by the TPC in February 2016. It said that judges should decide what was a fair timetable in each appeal. It did not agree that the system was not working, but it would keep this under review and would consult on changes.
This Government consultation represents a renewed attempt to reintroduce the DFT. PLP is very concerned that this is an attempt to undermine the independence of the TPC. The main reasons for PLP opposing this proposal are:
- The TPC rejected the Government’s recent attempt to reintroduce the DFT.
- These are complex appeals that concern fundamental rights. As they are in-country appeals they are likely to have some merit. This could make many of them unsuited to a fast-track procedure.
- The circumstances of each case varies and a rigid accelerated timetable for all cases is unfair.
- Judges should be permitted to decide on the timetable for each case and what is required to determine it fairly and swiftly.
- It will either increase the length of detention or the use of detention of appellants.
- Legal aid will not be available in time, meaning appellants will be unrepresented or ill-prepared.
- Representatives will not take these cases on or bring judicial reviews against their inclusion in the DFT because of cuts to legal aid.
- The Government’s evidence for the proposal is flawed and incomplete.
Author: The Public Law Project
Publication date: November 24 2016