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Review of the Senior President of Tribunals’ Annual Report 2018

The  Senior President of Tribunals’ Annual Report 2018 was published on 25 May 2018.   This year there will be two reports.  This article analyses the material provided by the IAC Chambers of the Tribunal.  In July a second report will focus on and address modernisation.

Upper Tribunal – IAC

The Immigration and Asylum Chamber report by Mr Justice Lane begins at page 14.  The report begins with a recognition for the work carried implemented by Mr Justice McCloskey of the High Court of Northern Ireland: “Bernard’s expertise in public law meant that he was able to see immigration as a part of that wider system and to bring to bear principles derived from its other parts. One particular interest was in matters procedural. Coming from a background where procedural requirements are expected to be followed, he lost no time in making it apparent that laxity would not be tolerated in UTIAC. This is because procedural 15 Senior President of Tribunals’ Annual Report 2018 Upper Tribunal rules are there to serve the interests of justice. Bernard was also quick to master the intricacies of the often-labyrinthine immigration rules. A significant number of his decisions involved a clear-sighted and rigorous approach to their interpretation”.

The report notes that since April 2017, the UTIAC has seen a significant rise in work arising from the First-tier Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber (FTTIAC).  The report identifies “There is a pressing need for more salaried Upper Tribunal judges” and confirms that a JAC selection exercise will commence soon.  

The report recognises that although there has not been a rise in judicial reviews, this could of course change.

UTJ King and UTJ  Jordan will continue to sit and the UTIAC’s current Principal Resident Judge, Dawson, is stepping down from his role.  

The UTIAC continues to develop a common IT system, a circuit-system will shortly be introduced in Manchester so that the UTIAC’s judicial review work outside London.   This may be extended to other centres. Another project being moved forward is a shadowing scheme in December 2017, where proposals are being developed for the lawyers to undertake delegated judicial functions within the jurisdiction.  

First-tier Tribunal – IAC

Judge Clements continues at page 33 beginning: “Reform is now underway. New salaried judges have been appointed. Fee-paid judges have continued to see a steady stream of sittings and, given the current profiles, the pending appointment of our salaried judges and recruitment of our fee-paid judges, it is likely that demands on our hard- working fee-paid judges to sit up to their limit will continue”.

The report sets out the vision for “paperless’ appeals” and extempore decisions becoming the “norm”.

The report focuses on wasted costs orders and limiting adjournments: “Earlier this year I sat with Bernard McCloskey, who was then President of the Upper Tribunal (IAC), and we have now given guidance with respect to wasted cost orders and cost unreasonably incurred. New forms and Notices have been developed and I expect them to be put into common usage shortly. It is hoped that the cumulative effects of these steps will be to create better discipline within the jurisdiction with fewer adjournments and postponements”.

Importantly the report notes the importance of identifying “vulnerable persons” who have not been permitted to remain in the UK.  This is particularly important following the cases of Kiarie and Byndloss (on the application of) [2017 UKSC42]  and AM (Afghanistan) v SSHD and Lord Chancellor [2017] EWCA Civ 1123.  The report identifies the importance of video link evidence and the improvements in technology to the extent that “it is considered that the entire case management list could be dealt with using this new technology with no need for the parties to come to the hearing centre”.

The report still notes the shortage of judges and the attempts to resolve this: “However, at the time of writing this report we still have a shortage of judges and as a result it has been agreed that we can take from the reserve list of the 35 Senior President of Tribunals’ Annual Report 2018 First-tier tribunal salaried competition further salaried judiciary. A fee-paid competition has launched for judges to be appointed across the jurisdiction of the First-tier Tribunal which will hopefully provide further judicial resources”.   The shortage must contribute to delays which are still experienced by users of the system.  The delay has been acknowledged previously and which we analysed in a previous article  available to read through our Knowledge Centre.  The report identifies that Tribunal Case Workers are being deployed throughout the country and remains “optimistic as to the proactive and important role”.

What will be the impact of Brexit?  

The report concludes: “Brexit is coming although we are still not informed fully as to what this will mean or the implications for the FtTIAC in terms of workload. We will, however, be ready to meet the exciting challenges that the next year will undoubtedly bring forward”.

We look forward to reading and analysing the modernisation plans which will be outlined in the second report.  

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