Proxy marriages

The Tribunal have just issued a determination holding that proxy marriages in Brazil must be recognised in English law. The case is called CB (Validity of marriage: proxy marriage) Brazil [2008] UKAIT 00080. There seem to be a lot of these Brazilian proxy marriages about at the moment. I had an email query about them a few weeks ago and suddenly several cases landed on my desk a week ago or so. A marriage by proxy is where one of the parties to the marriage is represented at the ceremony, rather than being present in person. It is a rather odd concept but it is legal in Brazil, and quite a…

30th October 2008 By Free Movement

Expert apology

There has been a fascinating little story unfolding around a case called SD (expert evidence) Lebanon [2008] UKAIT 00078. The Guardian picked up the story and ran an article on it on Monday. Dr Alan George is a respected academic and a specialist in the Middle East. He has been doing expert reports for asylum cases for years. Like many other academics writing expert reports, though, he has received somewhat rough treatment at the hands of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and its predecessors. This treatment is in my opinion often unfair. Expert evidence is routinely rejected in the tribunal if it is considered to be biased or partial in some…

29th October 2008 By Free Movement

Landmark case on children

In the case of EM (Lebanon) v SSHD [2008] UKHL 64 the House of Lords looked at Article 8 again (having done so earlier this year as well) and delivered another landmark judgment. It is believed to be the first time in European legal history that a higher court has found that a future, foreign breach of a non-absolute human right would be sufficiently serious so as to prohibit the victim’s removal to the country where there is a real risk the breach would take place. The Lords were hearing an appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal in EM (Lebanon) [2006] EWCA Civ 1531. The facts were that…

28th October 2008 By Free Movement

Third party support

[UPDATE: case overturned by Supreme Court] In a case called AM (Ethiopia) & Ors v Entry Clearance Officer [2008] EWCA Civ 1082 the Court of Appeal has just upheld the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’s approach to the question of what lawyers call ‘third party support’. Third party support is financial support offered to a potential immigrant in order to enable them to meet the adequate maintenance without recourse to public funds part of most immigration rules. The person offering the support will often be a close relative or family member, but is not the actual ‘sponsor’ as such, i.e. the UK-based spouse or the person sometimes nominated in the Visa Application Form…

21st October 2008 By Free Movement

Visitor proliferation

The new Immigration Minister, Phil Woolas, yesterday announced the announcement of new rules for visitors. Spot the deliberate tautology? The Home Office seems to have improved the amount of warning it now gives us when making planned changes to the rules (although the debacle around the no return rule might lead one to speculate that this is not yet universal and they’ll slip something under the radar when it suits them), but the way the press release is written might lead Joe Public/Plumber to think that these rules were coming into force immediately. It will all no doubt be re-announced in due course. A classic Gordon Brown and New Labour-ism…

17th October 2008 By Free Movement

COIS to revert to CIPU

The Country of Origin Information Service (COIS) at the Home Office is the successor to the generally derided Country Information and Policy Unit (CIPU). CIPU reports were poorly researched and outright biased against asylum seekers, although many immigration judges mistakenly treated them as the whole truth. In 2004 the Immigration Advisory Service did an excellent report on CIPU. They checked every quote against the purported source. Often the source simply didn’t say anything resembling the alleged quote, or the first half of a sentence would be included but the qualifier omitted. For example, “The human rights situation in x country is generally good” would be quoted but the second half of the…

16th October 2008 By Free Movement

The penny drops

UPDATE: It would seem that Mark Ockelton has been sitting in the Administrative Court as a deputy high court judge and has not been promoted to the High Court bench. — A while ago I posted some gossip I had heard at the end of the summer: that Mark Ockelton, a deputy president of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, had been appointed a high court judge. The penny has finally dropped as to why. It is a legal requirement that the president of the tribunal be a high court judge. Mr Justice Henry Hodge (right – he looks friendlier than this in real life!), the current president, is known to be…

14th October 2008 By Free Movement

Metock rejected by Tribunal

Further to my last post on this subject, it turns out that my surprise was entirely justified, as a different and more senior panel of the tribunal has decided, basically, that Metock changes nothing and it should be business as usual. The case is SM (Metock; extended family members) Sri Lanka [2008] UKAIT 00075. It seems to me that the tribunal is behaving increasingly like a party to proceedings. Collectively, through the reported and starred determinations system and probably through training and the online judicial discussion forums, the tribunal adopts somewhat tenuous but almost always conservative legal positions and then seeks to argue and defend them. This case is a classic example of…

12th October 2008 By Free Movement

Fee cheque bounces

Since the introduction of fees for immigration applications in 2003, the Home Office has become fanatical about collection of these fees. If the fee isn’t included with the application, no application is considered to have been made, so your leave to remain might expire while you think the Home Office is considering your new application. In fact, they are just taking their sweet time to let you know that as far as they are concerned, you haven’t even made an application. This is exactly what happened in the recent case of R (on the application of Forrester) v SSHD [2008] EWHC 2307 (Admin), decided by Mr Justice Sullivan. The immigrant had…

9th October 2008 By Free Movement

RLC office now a wine bar

In the selfless pursuit of immigration-related gossip and news, last Friday I went along to a gathering at a wine bar that was formerly the office of the Refugee Legal Centre. The surroundings have been somewhat improved since the RLC days, it turned out. The gathering was organised by two ex members of staff and there was quite an impressive turn out. A single bomb, collapsing roof or similar would have wiped out some of the country’s finest asylum lawyers. The Home Office and Legal Services Commission would have been distraught, I’m sure. Barry Stoyle was not there, sadly. Before his departure in 2005, he was perceived to be very remote by…

8th October 2008 By Free Movement

Here we go again

So, Phil “Muslims are Inbred” Woolas (left) is the new immigration minister, and Liam “Dessicated Calculated Machine” Byrne is out (and up). Woolas didn’t waste time before playing the populist, and immediately announced that he thought there ought to be a limit to the population. Unless he is planning a ‘one child’ policy, it rather implies an imposed cap on immigration. I hate this moment, when I suddenly have to look back fondly on the last minister as being a paragon of liberal virtue in comparison to the new even more reactionary one. It really does seem to get worse and worse. It never ceases to astound me that Jack…

7th October 2008 By Free Movement