In line with our commitment to access to justice and to representing all sectors of the community, and in particular disadvantaged groups, 1MCB’s immigration team has issued a joint statement with 19 other chambers in response to legal aid changes.
Procedural changes in the First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) introduced in the wake of Covid-19 have altered the way appeals are run. This means that appellants are now required to submit an Appellant’s Skeleton Argument ahead of a Case Management Hearing. The new fixed fee proposed in the Amendment to the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013, however, does not provide adequate funding for legal aid barristers or solicitors to carry out the work required under the new regime.
Over the years, remuneration for legal aid work has been subjected to deep cuts and working within this area is all too often a balancing act. Failure to provide a fair payment scheme for the new procedural requirements will impact access to justice.
In response to these changes, the members of 1MCB’s immigration team have made the difficult decision to adopt the following policy in relation to legal aid fixed fee cases:
Other than in exceptional circumstances, each member of the immigration team of the chambers listed below will not accept instructions under the ‘Reform Procedure’ to prepare an ‘Appeal Skeleton Argument’, unless specific provision is made for that work to be adequately remunerated.
The same policy has been adopted by members of immigration teams across the UK, including:
4 King’s Bench Walk Immigration Team
10 King’s Bench Walk Immigration Team
36 Public and Human Rights, The 36 Group
Broadway House Immigration Team
Doughty Street Chambers Immigration Team
Garden Court Chambers Immigration Team
Garden Court North Chambers Immigration Team
Goldsmith Chambers Immigration Team
KBW Chambers Leeds
Lamb Building Immigration Practice Group
Landmark Chambers Immigration Group
Matrix Chambers Immigration Team
No. 5 Immigration Group
No. 8 Immigration Team
One Pump Court Immigration Team
The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has prepared a detailed breakdown of the Regulations and their impact. ILPA have consistently recommended that practitioners are paid hourly rates for their work.
The Bar Council has issued a statement and fully supports ILPA’s position. The Law Society has also expressed serious concerns, including the difficulties in reaching the new “escape fee” limit.
Should you wish to discuss an appeal and how this policy will affect our work, please contact our Senior Civil and Family Clerk, Tim Markham.