The Government has announced that it will review the fees charged for Immigration and Asylum appeals and will not, for the moment, go ahead with proposals to increase tribunal fees by 500% in order to achieve full cost recovery. Any applicants who have paid the new, higher fees will be reimbursed the difference.
Cathy Corcoran, Chief Executive of the Cardinal Hume Centre (member of CSAN), said “This unexpected announcement is very welcome news indeed. We at Cardinal Hume Centre are greatly relieved that, for the moment at least, any of our clients making immigration and asylum appeals will pay £140 instead of the increased fee of £800. We feared this was acting as a very real barrier for some of the most vulnerable members of society to be able to access justice. We are reassured to learn that everyone who paid the higher fee will have the difference refunded.”
Bishop Terence Drainey, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) Chair of Trustees said, “We are delighted that the Government has listened to and acted upon the concerns raised by the immigration practitioners at the Cardinal Hume Centre and elsewhere. We share the Government’s belief that the system must be properly funded to protect access to justice, but we strongly believe that the proposed increases would have prevented vulnerable appellants from having their cases fairly heard.”
In September the Government published its response to a consultation on the fee increases. Of the 147 responses, 142 respondents disagreed with the proposal. CSAN and the Cardinal Hume Centre submitted a joint response, highlighting the precarious situation of many appellants and providing evidence that such increases would act as a barrier to justice.
Following the Government’s initial decision to press ahead with the fee increases, Bishop Terence Drainey issued a statement to welcome the Government’s commitment to making exemptions for the destitute, but outlined his concerns for fair access to justice and called for further consideration of the issue.
Last week, CSAN and Jewish advocacy charity René Cassin sent a joint letter to Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss, signed by Bishop Drainey and Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, emphasising the need to protect access to justice for those most in need and advocating for the fair application of fee waivers.
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