Author: Banji

First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) notifies that all appeals will proceed by way of a Case Management Hearing via telephone or Skype

Summary:

Full text of notice by Judge Phillips on changes to appeals due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Date of Publication:

24 March 2020

A notice was issued today by Resident Judge Phillips with details of changes to appeals in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The full notice is below.

As stated by Judge Phillips, “all appeals will proceed by way of a Case Management Hearing (CMR) via telephone or Skype which will take place on a date to be notified in a time slot to be allocated. All current scheduled hearings are vacated.”


FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL (IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM) CHAMBER HEARINGS

NOTICE

In view of the rapidly changing circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the President of the First-tier Tribunal (IAC) has directed that all appeals will proceed by way of a Case Management Hearing (CMR) via telephone or Skype which will take place on a date to be notified in a time slot to be allocated. All current scheduled hearings are vacated.

1. Within 5 working days of the date of this Notice you must provide direct contact number(s) and email address(es) for the Tribunal to contact you and any members of your organisation having any business with the Tribunal. If members of your organisation have access to Skype for Business, you must inform the Tribunal and provide all necessary information to the Tribunal to enable communication by that medium.

2. You must comply with the following directions.

3. All parties must be available 5 minutes before the allocated time

4. The parties may make an application to the Tribunal at any time. Such application must only be by email ecorrespondence@Justice.gov.uk.

5. Any witness statements and other evidence upon which the Appellant intends to rely must be sent electronically to the Tribunal and to the Respondent together with an Appeal Skeleton Argument (‘ASA’) within 15 working days of the date of this notice to ecorrespondence@Justice.gov.uk

6. Within 10 working days of the provision of the ASA the Respondent must serve a response to the ASA by email to the Tribunal and to the Appellant’s representatives and if no response is received within the said time limit it will be assumed that the Respondent does not take issue with the submissions contained in the ASA.

7. The ASA and the response together with all the evidence provided will be considered by a Judge who will consider, having given the parties an opportunity to make written representations (rule 25(2)), whether the appeal can be justly determined without a hearing (rule 25(1)(g)).

8. In cases concerning international protection or the revocation of international protection the Appellant, if represented, must set out at the commencement of the ASA a summary of the Appellant’s case together with a schedule of issues as if the Pilot on-line Digital Pilot Directions applied (a copy of which is attached) and the Respondent must respond accordingly subject to the time limits set out in this Notice being applicable.

9. Where it is not considered appropriate for the matter to proceed without a hearing, consideration will be given to the hearing of this appeal by remote means. To that end each party must provide at the CMR or before

(a) the means by which they, the appellant(s) and any witnesses, will engage with the Tribunal (the Tribunal expects all representatives to have access to Skype or Skype for Business);

(b) the location of the Appellant;

(c) the location of each witness, if any;

(d) language of interpreter(s) if not already provided;

(e) the number of pages in the bundle of documents to be relied upon;

(f) no bundle may exceed 50 pages without the consent of the Tribunal;

(g) any documents provided to the Tribunal must be in .pdf format and reduced to the minimum number of documents required, for the avoidance of doubt generic bundles will not be accepted.

Resident Judge J F W Phillips | Date: 24 March 2020

Coronavirus: Business as usual ‘not realistic’ says lord chief justice

he lord chief justice today stepped into the controversy caused by lawyers being forced to attend court despite the government’s appeal to cancel all non-essential travel. In a statement this lunchtime Lord Burnett of Maldon said it was ‘not realistic’ to suppose that it will be business as usual in any jurisdiction, although he maintained it is of ‘vital importance that the administration of justice does not grind to a halt’.

His intervention followed outrage from lawyers at a justice minister’s statement last night that courts would be ‘operating normally’ today. Neither courts minister Chris Philp nor HM Courts & Tribunals Service has said anything since the announcement.

Lord Burnett of Maldon, lord chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP and master of the rolls Sir Terence Etherton

chief-justice
Lord Burnett of Maldon: ‘not realistic’ to suppose it will be business as usual in any jurisdiction Source: Michael Cross

But reports have been widespread that judges and court staff have elected to either halt proceedings or reduce new cases. Burnett said: ‘We continue to work closely with others in the justice system, including the Ministry of Justice and HMCTS, to work through the implications of the developing medical position for the operation of the courts.

‘Given the rapidly evolving situation, there is an urgent need to increase the use of telephone and video technology immediately to hold remote hearings where possible. Emergency legislation is being drafted which is likely to contain clauses that expand the powers in criminal courts to use technology in a wider range of hearings.’

Pressure is mounting on the government to curb face-to-face hearings in line with the government’s wider coronovirus outbreak guidance. The Criminal Bar Association called for a ‘temporary cessation’ to jury trials, while still opposing any effort to conduct trials without juries.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the courts and tribunals service has announced that no new criminal jury trials will be commenced until further notice.

It is possible ministers in England and Wales are trying to hold the line until tomorrow, when emergency legislation is expected to pave the way for greater use of video hearings.

Meanwhile concerns grew today that ongoing inquest hearings may be diverting healthcare professionals away from frontline care. Regulatory lawyer Andrea James told the Gazette she is currently attending an inquest involving four doctors, including a respiratory physician.

Gavin Knox, solicitor for NHS Wales, tweeted: ‘Cancel inquests. Hugely important for families but they are rarely time critical. Any jury inquests are surely a bad idea and would probably collapse as jurors pull out. They will take key medical staff away from where they are needed most.’

Barrister and mediator John de Waal QC pointed out this not just an issue affecting criminal justice and trials, adding: ‘I am at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre on a property dispute. The court is heaving with people. It’s quite absurd. I am professionally obliged to be here but both taking a risk and posing a risk to others.’

*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.