Did you perhaps think that we have an advanced and somewhat fair judicial system, where judges make decisions after looking at evidence that the parties submit? Think again. “Administrative blunder” at Yarl’s Wood hearing centre last week caused one “judge” – surely can’t have been a real judge? – to spew out a STACK of “decisions” on MULTIPLE cases that were awaiting parties’ submissions, with deadlines up to the end of June. How many times can you type “there is no evidence provided, appeal is dismissed”, without wondering whether something was wrong, and not being then dismissed yourself?
Standard procedure for an appeal “on papers” — you send everything to Leicester, which copies submissions to SSHD, allocates the case to a less-busy centre, where it is looked over and directions are used to summon response from SSHD and any further submissions from the Appellant, with a deadline given – and after those are received, a decision is made.
Conventionally of course, it is the judges who review the case and make directions. But in attempts to streamline immigration appeals system, clerks have been empowered to make directions, and they are sent quite automatically and often without any reading of or regard to the case, for what has submitted. So you get directions asking for any submissions, regardless of whether you sent any or all already. Directions give a deadline. By that deadline I usually send anything new with all the initial submissions re-sent, because I noticed that they hardly ever actually send them from Leicester in time, or at all.
Appeal on papers system is notoriously flawed and I only twice ever used it, the case at hand was not factual at all and there seemed no reason whatsoever to summon a hearing. Refusal was clearly an admin error against published and well practiced policy and I’d have rather asked for reconsideration if EEA department hadn’t been so crazy now.
So anyway, in May we submit an appeal, make full submissions to Leicester, then a couple of weeks later — enormous speed! – get letters from YARLS WOOD — hardly a citadel of EU law expertise, but apparently too light on work now, that most of the centre’s detainees no longer have a right of appeal due to legislative changes – asking for submissions by 28 June. We prepared submissions — old ones to send again, and new ones – and as they lay on the coffee table with post to go out, a new letter arrives — a notice of decision dated 16th of June!! The shortest I ever seen, too – it says that both parties are unrepresented ()although they are sending it to me), and that no evidence has been provided, and so appeal is dismissed.
Firstly some evidence has been provided with the initial submissions, so where were they? but OK. Were the directions giving 28 June deadline not on file? was it not suspicious at all that the file was empty? What is it, normal experience? I REFUSE to believe that an actual person with legal training, let alone I’d ever call “judge”, wrote this.
So naturally I pick up the phone and I call Yarl’s Wood — their direct number is on all this nonsense paperwork – and some guy picks up and says — OH YEAH OF OF THOSE! WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS. He sounds mildly amused, and informs me of administrative error — “maybe a judge got a wrong stack, you know” – he says. Wrong STACK? Turns out there has been MANY of them! So some so-called “judge” sat there all day chucking out this spew in relation to a STACK of empty casefiles, not ever wondering why are they empty? In what country would you tell people they have until 28th June to make submissions, and then make a “decision” on the 16th?
This country is turning into North Korea or a Kafka novel, faster than I can think. I’d like to call for a removal of that “judge” and also to wake up about 1000 miles from this “judicial system”. I am on a verge of giving up. What do you even DO? JR against FTT YARLS WQOD? Surely you don’t appeal this nonsense to the UT? How do you even request for a judgement to be set aside in FTT?
The guy on the phone, who never explained what his position was, told me they are taking steps — of their own accord, upon discover of the “admin error” – to put affected cases in front of duty judge to “recall” the erroneous judgements and have cases re-assigned for consideration again after respective deadlines (to a different judge? – I asked, to which he said, seemingly in thought — Yeah, I see what you are saying…. ). Told me to put an extra cover note on the submissions about to go out, mentioning this conversation and his name. Thanks, pal. You sounded sane.
But, sorry, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!
I filed a request for a hearing. Said I will personally pinch in extra £60. Waiting for an answer. If they are just stalling until “time to request right to appeal” runs out, I won’t be surprised. Not a bit.