Preliminaries to hearings:
One of the most effective dynamics and tactics of the Hostile Environment multiagency implementers has been to cause maximum obscurity / non-transparency for those using UK immigration services, in other words creation of confusion in following processes. In this case you have already submitted your appeal within a very tight deadline (usually 14 days from the date of the letter giving you permission to appeal, a document accompanying your refusal decision).
Now, once a date for your hearing has been provided, you are asked to submit your appeal afresh (again within a specified number of days) as if you had never submitted your appeal in the first place. You have to send your appeal document afresh and supportive evidence (your ‘Bundle’) and are informed that the Home Office / Respondent has a similar amount of time to reply to this, and provide their ‘bundle’ (case documents) back to the Tribunal and yourself. It is as if your appeal when originally submitted, had never been sent to the Tribunal. Regarding deadlines for submitting your Appellant and the Home Office / Respondent Bundles may be treated very differently by the Tribunal’s administrative staff.
There are strict mandatory 7-day deadlines for providing these before the Tribunal, that the latter requires. However, further evidencing the all too close interconnection between the Home Office & Tribunal, the latter takes no action against the latter when they abuse this very important requirement. In one of the most extreme examples of abuse of this requirement by the Home Office, court ushers in the First-tier Tribunal ‘IAC’ at Hatton Cross providing the Home Office ‘Bundle’ TEN MINUTES before the hearing. It is impossible to properly compose and prepare for an appeal hearing if you do not receive the Home Office ‘bundle’ at least three working days in advance.
The Judge presiding over the case (who internet research revealed subsequently to have a strongly Home Office perspectives on refusal of cases of genuine applicants with very strong credentials and evidence exposing Home Office grounds for refusing to be extremely weak to untenable) made no comment on this extremely important matter. The Tribunal took no action either against the Home Office; extremely damaging responses / non-responses from the perspective of anyone at the most senior levels of the Tribunal that care for its name as fair, professional, independent.
A particularly important part of the Hostile Environment at operational level Home Office & Tribunal takes place next — the Home Office / Respondent reply to your appeal.
Commonly, especially if you have been thorough on a point by point basis supported by extensive and compelling evidence, in your appeal, you will commonly find the Home Office / Respondent effectively ignores the point by point detailed refutation material your appeal comprises of, and increasingly the Tribunal will take a very Home Office / Respondent supportive approach.
If you are self-representing, you will with the revealed, perceived Home Office supportive judges will start an oral hearing by saying in as many words ‘tell me what this is about / what are the reasons you reject the Respondent’s refusal of your application?’
When this happens, you will know that you are not dealing with a truly independent of the Home Office, objective orientated judge, as they have in taking such an approach have incontrovertibly chosen to abandon detailed scrutiny of the Home Office point by point refusal of your application, and particularly the corresponding point by point appeal and related supportive evidence you have provided. If in doubt on this, you will quickly know that this is in fact the case as the judge makes major to minor errors demonstrating they haven’t even read your appeal properly.
One of the most spectacular examples of this being a judge getting the appellant’s partner & representative’s name wrong more than 20 times with three variations of wrong name (and not having the correct one even once) and then an Upper Tribunal judge saying the judge in question was very thorough on detail – and himself carrying on with getting the name wrong too, amongst other evidences of not having read the appellant’s appeal.
In many cases, especially asylum and LGBT context ones, major personal safety issues will be involved. The Tribunal ‘gov.uk’ webpages and those of the Home Office in regard to safety matters, are given minimal prominence, minimal ease to access. If your life could realistically be in danger regarding reason for asylum in particular, it is essential to realise that through the current safety and safeguarding protections standards of the Tribunal it would be extremely unwise and perhaps fatal to trust to the Immigration Tribunal in the Hostile Environment era.
For LGBTs, the Tribunal is very unsafe, as they and with the Home Office as bystanders not intervening, can enable those who use it to be Outed as gay and about their same-sex relationship being identified. This as well as the more spectacular instances of Immigration Tribunal judges – knowing about compelling clear evidence — being comfortable to make decisions that can send LGBT people to their deaths in their home countries, make the Tribunal neither LGBT safe nor competent, and indicating at best that many (but Not all) Tribunal judges clearly have not had LGBT equality and safeguarding training of any worth, and at worst are homophobic without openly stating they are: their actions/in-hearing or on the Papers records indicate such conclusions as more than reasonable.
Anonymity orders can be about more than safety support, but also UK national interests work protections …. Essentially the Tribunal as an organisation, including from highest levels, has a ‘we don’t care attitude’ (more subtly & politely expressed, but just as brutal and forceful as the worst communications style of Border Force interrogators at Heathrow Terminal 4) and by default supports by withholding anonymity order protections, harm to UK national interests. Compelling reasons, even UK national interest ones can be given why anonymity orders be made, or requested be granted, and still they are refused – this is very characteristic of judges that are de-facto Hostile Environment enforcers.
Research on your designated hearing judge:
It is always valuable once you know the name of the judge that will hear your case to make an internet search to see any records of other cases they have covered, and if there were complaints about their handling of cases. Here you should ideally go through papers the judge has heard, looking for signs in particular of if they are largely uncritical of Home Office statements & assertions, and if they demonstrate a poor record on demonstrating that they have actually seriously in breadth and depth considered evidence provided by the appellant. If they have poor records on both these fronts then it is clear your case will be heard by a de-facto Home Office inclined judge, and you are likely to have your appeal turned down.
Training of judges on race relations/ethnicity and LGBT communities’ issues and communication:
This is extremely important to know about if you are a Tribunal service use from a BAME or LGBT minority. The Tribunal does not issue such information – possibly because it would compromise controversial aspects of the Tribunal’s own ‘operating mandate’ or comparable strategic document. Certainly, there is no in the public domain knowledge of such training and who monitors it, something damaging to the credibility of the Tribunal for those from such minority communities.