We open this topic with two links from the .gov.uk website concerning registered immigration advisers, and their accreditation source – a Home Office sponsored/funded entity. Italicised words represent points of importance.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) regulates immigration advisers, ensuring they are fit and competent and act in the best interest of their clients. OISC is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-immigration-services-commissioner
Registered immigration advisers
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) regulates immigration advisers and makes sure they meet certain standards. For example, advisers must:
- carry insurance against giving poor advice
- keep up to date with current immigration advice.
The requirement … keep up to date with current immigration advice … coming from OISC, a Home Office funded entity implies that as part of OISC accreditation, the latest changes to the Immigration Rules, will be readily provided; something that carries significance when we know such firms associated barristers also often represent the Home Office in Immigration Tribunal oral hearings (see below), which is where Appellant’s are most vulnerable to in-court abuses of process. Anyone very familiar with changes to the Rules from such a source may encounter difficulties around being ring-fenced independent of Home Office perspectives, it may be argued.
For reference barristers/Counsels employed by immigration advisory firms often can be employed by the Respondent/the Home Office to represent the latter, as much as by the immigration advice firms who are paid to act on behalf of the Appellant/the individual whose visa application/LTR or asylum application the Home Office has rejected.
Always shop around for your immigration advisor/law firm, and do internet ‘complaints about … Ltd’ searches on shortlisted firms. Study their websites carefully for evidence of empty boasting, or of discovering any notable cases they have covered and for evidence backed ethics and independence credentials. Check for pro bono options too: you may not need to pay in some cases, at least for some immigration advice firms services.
Home Office recognised/authorised legal immigration advisors, immigration advise solicitors law firms (comprising solicitors and associated barristers) of course predate the Hostile Environment, but since the onset of the latter any legal advisors that have Home Office involvement in their accreditation must be looked upon with a degree of guarded wariness.
The Hostile Environment by definition does not operate on a level playing field, and as we know from almost daily news pieces covering local area to national Hostile Environment scandals, stretches across sometimes to the front sometimes concealed in the background, numerous numbers of government and public service and public sector agencies and departments. And utilising many different types of strategies from ‘informing’ to ensuring the ability to argue your case on a miscarriage of justice is hampered by means that often include outright bullying and de-facto trickery, such as losing or altering crucial details on key documents (see Immigration History Records: http://needtoknow-immigrationuk.com/immigration-history-records/ ).
It would be a mistake to assume that OISC [therefore by extension, Home Office] accredited immigration advisors may not be in subtle ways sometimes be susceptible to being caught up in the Hostile Environment – usually such influence may be indicated by the given firm not following processes or providing the services it had been contracted to provide. Our example below gives some valuable insights in what NOT to have or pay for in an OISC or other form of accredited law firm (constituting solicitor and associated barrister).
An example of a bad immigration law firm:
We have been provided with the following experience of an unlucky Appellant enlisting an OISC accredited immigration law firm in East London.
Going to the firm’s office the reception areas walls were covered with PR intended ‘Thank You’ cards. However, on closer inspection many of these, when their insides were inspected found they were entirely empty of any wording – they were simply Thank You cards stuck on the walls. The same firm although provided in good time with all of the Appellant’s Brief and supportive ‘Bundle’ documents found that the firm failed to provide these, as part of the paid for services, in time (7 days before the date of the oral hearing) to the Tribunal, despite regular chase ups on this important requirement, by the Appellant. Instead they went in on the late afternoon the day before the hearing that took place the next morning, ensuring the judge had no opportunity to do anything but carry out a very short skim read of the Bundle or probably just parts of it.
The next morning the law firms barrister turned up late, clearly according to the Appellant and his representative, had no mastery of the Brief and was in a panic casting around literally moments before entering the courtroom, to try and settle on an approach to represent the client – all of this despite the Appellant having provided him with the information in the days before the hearing. Naturally the Appellant’s barrister made a very confused case that was easily dismissed by the Respondent/Home Office barrister, with the judge readily according support to the latter’s perspectives and points.
Then, in panic, the Appellant’s barrister asked for an adjournment, and against all mandatory and customary requirements on legal counsels, left the building, went off to speak with colleagues about what to do, and then failed to return to the building. The judge even asked the Appellant to contact the barrister to find out where he had gone and when he was coming back as he had a busy day of cases ahead and this was holding them up. The law in such circumstances requires that a legal counsel cannot leave the building without requesting permission to do so from the judge; which was never done.
Not surprisingly the case was lost, and the barrister who had never even got anywhere near the main strengths of the Appellant’s case (which had secured the case being able to go to the Upper Tribunal, the Immigration Tribunal tier it was held at), stated he had a bad head cold which is why he acted as he did, in such irregular and unfocused ways. In the case the Appellant, a gay man, was even de-facto Outed as gay to a fellow national (both from the same country and with the latter known to the husband of the Appellant).
The judge, the Home Office Respondent, and Appellant barrister all were completely indifferent to their roles, responsibilities and the very serious costs to the Appellant and his husband of the Outing – demonstrating that on such a very basic, fundamental LGBT safeguarding matter, the judge and both barristers were completely unaware and therefore wonting in any LGBT engagement, safety training of credible kinds. Later the law firm offered not a penny of reimbursement, or free services by way of recompense, nor apology for what happened. Indeed, later the Appellant’s barrister blamed the Appellant for not preventing the Outing and for not providing all of the essential information well in advance of the hearing, which he had provided.
Finally …. From Politics.Co.Uk in regard to legal representation and the Hostile Environment, this excellent exposé by Ian Dunt, two years in to the Hostile Environment – a reminder that through the latter all British taxpayers are contributing to the fees and costs related to Hostile Environment costs in the legal and legal representation domain.
Censored: Home Office refuses to publish cost of Theresa May’s legal battles
Theresa May: highly litigious, but with few court victories to her name
By Ian Dunt Monday, 17 March 2014 5:34 PM
The Home Office is refusing to publish details of how much Theresa May has spent on legal battles, despite evidence the total sum runs up to several million pounds.
Responding to a freedom of information request from campaign group Brit Cits, the Home Office claimed that calculating how much it spent on legal battles since 2010 would be “disproportionately” expensive.
But the decision means the public has no access to clear information about how much May’s various legal battles are costing the taxpayer, not just in terms of legal fees but also including compensation paid out after unsuccessful cases.
“It’s important that organisations are open and transparent, and expensive legal battles whose costs are hidden should concern taxpayers,” TaxPayers’ Alliance director John O’Connell commented.