Members of GCN Immigration Team write to FTT President regarding ASA notice

25 March 2020

Letter to the President

25th March 2020

Dear Sir,

We write further to the consideration of notice (hereafter “the 24th March 2020 Notice”) being generally circulated to practitioners on 24th and 25th March 2020 which contains the following: 

5. Any witness statements and other evidence upon which the Appellant intends to rely must be sent electronically to the Tribunal and to the Respondent together with an Appeal Skeleton Argument (‘ASA’) within 15 working days of the date of this notice to ecorrespondence@Justice.gov.uk 

We have also seen a notice issued by Bradford IAC in identical terms on 25th March 2020 in respect to an asylum appeal. 

We refer to the letter written by ILPA dated, 24th March 2020 to President Clements and James Wrigley (MOJ) setting out very serious concerns about the apparent rollout of what was hitherto the Reform Online Pilot (“the Pilot”) and funding concerns.  We fully endorse that letter; the new scheme must be properly funded before it can be commenced. 

From a practitioner perspective, before an ASA can be completed, full preparation of the case will be required.  There is no designated funding under the current Legal Aid CLR Funding Scheme for any of this work.   This is financially unsustainable for firms and will have the likely effect of appellants appearing before the FTT unrepresented. 

Moreover, the directions impose a wholly impractical timeframe within which to comply and raise serious risks to the effective administration of justice involving already vulnerable appellants; two obvious examples being minors and victims of trafficking. 

We are of the view that any attempt to implement the Pilot is premature, and that the current circumstances (COVID-19) should not be regarded as an opportunity for commencement of the Pilot. 

We will not accept instructions to complete ASAs on the basis that such preparation would not be supported by a proper fee for [our] services

Yours sincerely,

Garden Court North Immigration Team

Aarif Abraham (Call 2016),

Ciara Bartlam (Call 2017),

Sean Ell (2009),

Jonathan Holt (Call 2009),

Tasaddat Hussain (Call 1998),

Vijay Jagadesham (Call 2004),

Mikhil Karnik (Call 2005),

Lucy Mair (Call 2011),

Joseph Markus (2012),

Elizabeth Mottershaw (2015),

Rory O’Ryan (Call 2000),

Tom Royston (Call 2012),

Kerry Smith (Call 2002),

Natalie Wilkins (Call 2013).

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