Representing yourself at an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal – Part 2
Preparing and Presenting your Immigration Appeal.
Monthly Blog- August 2018
You don’t need to be a solicitor to present your own appeal in a clear and forthright manner. What you really need is a thorough understanding of your full case. What does that mean? It means you need to understand all the reasons why your application was refused, and then you must provide evidence to address all of the reasons for refusal. Knowing exactly what you are trying to prove with specific evidence will help you to present your case in a clear and well-organised manner.
You will need to compile a ‘bundle’ of evidence that you would like to rely on in court and supply it to the court at least 5 days before the hearing. You must ensure from the outset that you have obtained and included in your bundle all the evidence you want to rely on at your hearing. The Immigration Judge and the Home Office Presenting Officer (HOPO) will each have the opportunity to look at this before the hearing, although you should not assume that they will have read everything thoroughly. You will need to index it and number the pages so you can quickly guide everyone to the evidence you are referring to on the day. If they have read your bundle, the Judge or HOPO may have prepared questions about your evidence, so try to anticipate and be prepared to answer these.
I would recommend having a well-organised and relevant Tribunal bundle that you are very familiar with. You will need to know each piece of evidence well and be able to pick it out at a moment’s notice. I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your case inside and out!
Documents To Include In Your Tribunal Bundle
What is a Tribunal bundle? A Tribunal bundle is simply all the documents brought together by a party in legal proceedings for purpose of going to trial. Your bundle should contain evidence you will rely on when presenting the appeal. The bundle is very important as it essentially contains everything you want the Judge to read about your case. Your bundle should be organised and easy to follow; it should therefore be page numbered and indexed. You should only include documents that are relevant to your case and prove a particular point in your favour. Try not to duplicate evidence that is already in the Home Office bundle (see our section on what is in the Home Office bundle).
Before attending the hearing, you will need to prepare your Tribunal bundle. You must include a statement for each person giving evidence before the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. Your statement should include details of when and how you came to the UK, and what you were doing in the UK. Try to include information about your reasons for thinking you meet the requirement of the law. Make it as detailed as possible but try to keep it relevant and avoid repetition. It is important that you provide evidence to demonstrate that you meet the particular rules, or that the decision, if maintained, breaches your human rights. Ensure you address the reasons for refusal by explaining why you think the decision was wrong. It is also advisable to consider in advance of the hearing date any relevant evidence that will take some time to obtain. Submit your bundle as soon as the documents are available, at least 5 days before the hearing date. Be sure to correctly number the pages, and also double check where you are sending the Tribunal bundle to so you comply with the Tribunal’s directions. Also remember that you must submit a copy of your bundle to the Home Office Presenting Officers unit at the same time you send it to the Tribunal.
It is important with an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal appeal to always consider as early as possible what evidence you will need to provide in order to prove your case. You must do this well before the hearing date. Remember, the Home Office will provide as much evidence as possible in their bundle to ensure that your appeal is refused. You should get to see this in advance, however, on the day of the hearing there is a real possibility that the Home Office Presenting Officer will provide you with further evidence that you may not have seen before the date of the hearing. If you are given evidence on the day of the hearing then you are entitled to, and should, request time to consider that evidence carefully before you proceed with the appeal.
What Is The Procedure At The Asylum And Immigration Tribunal?
Get to know the Tribunal procedure. Asylum and Immigration Tribunal hearings are mostly open to the public, so go to a few hearings before your hearing date and check out what happens. It will help to prepare you for your appeal hearing.
When your hearing starts you will need to confirm your full name and address. You will also need to confirm that the statement prepared and submitted by you is true, accurate and you want it entered as your evidence for the appeal.
You will then usually be asked a number of questions either by the Home Office Presenting Officer, the Judge, or both. You should listen carefully to the questions. Respond to the questions in a polite, respectful manner, trying not to be defensive and ensuring you actually answer the specific question being asked. Mae sure you stay on topic and stick to answering the question you were asked. Keep your answers short to avoid waffling.
You should not be afraid to ask the Home Office or Judge to repeat or re-phrase a question if you did not understand it. You should also not be afraid, if necessary, to ask for time to compose yourself before answering specific questions. Make notes during the proceedings in relation to what you intend to say at the end of the hearing during your submissions.
Once the Home Office Presenting Officer and Judge has finished asking you questions, then you will move onto what’s called submissions. Submissions are oral arguments each party makes to the Judge. Essentially, you must state all the legal and factual reasons why your immigration appeal should be allowed.
How To Win Your Appeal
If you are going to win your appeal you must persuade the Judge that your arguments and factually and legally correct. You must, therefore, have a good response to every point raised by the Home Office during their submissions. You must point out what evidence contradicts the Home Office’s submissions and say why it supports your case. To succeed, you must rely on independent evidence wherever possible to prove you are correct. You must be persuasive during your submissions. Submissions are usually a summary of one side’s case in legal proceedings.
The HOPO will make their submissions before yours. Make detailed notes during the Home Office submissions so you can respond to the points being made when you make your submissions. During your submissions you should state why your appeal should be allowed.
Prepare Yourself For The Hearing
On the day of the hearing I would recommend getting up early and going through all your appeal papers several times so they are fresh in your mind. Start thinking about what you will explain to the Judge and how you will do so. You must ensure you have all the evidence you intend to rely on to win your appeal within your bundle. You must try to anticipate what the Home Office are going to argue and prepare in advance for the questions that will be put to you or any of your witnesses. If attending court with any other witnesses, be consistent with your evidence; that means you and all your witnesses must say exactly the same thing, especially regarding the dates of major events such as marriage or when you met. If you are not consistent with all the evidence then Home Office will rely on your inconsistent evidence to prove that you and your witnesses are not reliable and as a result your appeal should be dismissed.
If you are going to win your appeal you must try to be confident, clear and forthright with your arguments. You must have a reasonable and plausible response to every point raised by the Home Office Presenting Officer during their submissions. You must refer the Judge to your strongest points and highlight the weaknesses in the Home Office’s case. Remember, be confident and know your case.
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