Representing yourself at an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal – Part 1
How to Represent Yourself in an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.
Hi, my name is Andrew Williams and I have 16 years of UK immigration experience, being a qualified Immigration Solicitor for the past 13 years, as well as working as an Immigration Adviser for 3 years prior to that. The work I do is mainly immigration, with a small amount of asylum work. I regularly attend Asylum and Immigration Tribunals and have successfully represented hundreds of clients over the past 17 years. My hard work and passion for helping people to change their lives in the UK has helped me to achieve an average success rate well in excess of 80%.
If your immigration application has been refused by the Home Office, your next step could be to appeal and attend an Immigration Tribunal to explain your case before a Judge. Going to court in any circumstance can be a daunting experience. So why then would you want to represent yourself at your own Immigration Tribunal? Well one of the main reasons will probably be costs; everyone knows that instructing a lawyer to represent you is likely to be costly. Immigration lawyers’ fees can vary significantly, but unfortunately this tends to be an indication of their success rate, with the best lawyers charging more than lawyers who are not so successful, due to inexperience, high workload or lack of proper training.
So, what then makes a successful lawyer in Immigration and Asylum proceedings and how can you achieve this for yourself?
Well, firstly, a good lawyer will spend a significant amount of time researching the facts of your case and preparing in advance of the hearing date. This is something you will be able to do as well as, if not better than, any lawyer as you will know your own case in detail and will not have to prioritise any other cases above your own.
The second thing is excellent advocacy skills. On the day of the hearing, a good lawyer will present your case clearly, highlighting the relevant facts and explaining how you meet the rules. With our help and guidance, you too will be able to do this for a better chance of winning your appeal.
So how do you prepare your case?
Preparation is key! When you are in control of your own case, the amount of preparation you put in is really down to you. With our help, representing yourself at your appeal doesn’t need to be difficult or overwhelming. Your starting point must always be a detailed analysis of the reasons the Home Office give you for refusal. You must address all of the points in the refusal letter and then decide what evidence you will need to prove your case. You will have the opportunity to explain your case to an Immigration Judge and explain why you disagree with each of the Home Office’s reasons for refusal, presenting any evidence that you may have. If you prepare for this well before the hearing date then you will have sufficient time to identify and obtain any important evidence that you will need to support your case. I find it helpful to try to see things from the Home Office Presenting Officer’s point of view, whose job it is to prove that their decision was correct. I would then ask myself what I need to do to prove that the decision was incorrect.
Once I have done that I would always think about what evidence I can obtain to prove my points and therefore strengthen my position when it comes to presenting the appeal. Putting yourself in the position of the other side will help you to quickly identify weaknesses in your own case and provide you with an opportunity to address those weaknesses as early as possible.
Presenting your case – advocacy skills
Someone with good advocacy skills can turn a poor case into a strong case by simply having the ability to make persuasive arguments about aspects of their case that are not particularly strong. A good advocate, when presenting a case, will also anticipate what the other side’s arguments will be and will have already prepared detailed counter-arguments before attending court. Essentially, a good advocate will argue the total opposite of the other side’s case using clear evidence and sound reasoning, so that the Judge is convinced that the only outcome is to allow the appeal.
For example, I have been in court on numerous occasions when the Home Office Presenting Officer has argued that they cannot see any insurmountable obstacles in the appellant’s case. My argument to those submissions has often been that the obstacles do exist but the Home Office has failed to recognise them as they have not considered all the evidence provided within the application. What I am trying to do in such a situation is turn the Home Office’s arguments against them and argue that they have missed important aspects of the appellant’s case by failing to consider all the facts and the evidence as a whole.
We hope you have found this blog helpful, don’t forget to check out Part 2.
If you need any advice about appeals, you can book an appointment to speak to one of our Immigration Lawyer HERE