Following the terrible news about the Immigration Advisory Service going into administration, their website has finally been updated with information for clients. The full text is reproduced below in case it changes or is taken down (complete with the wonky numbering of the original text).
New information includes that IAS has been negotiating with the LSC for a solvent restructure. The trustees say they felt that was not going to be possible and placed the organisation in administration as of last Friday. IAS actually owes the Legal Services Commission money, presumably because of overpayments made by the LSC. A recent LSC audit seems to have gone badly at the organisation, which seems to have highlighted overclaiming by IAS. Nevertheless, this seems to be the first staff have heard of this behind-the-scenes activity.
The tribunals, court and UK Border Agency have been informed of the situation. Given that IAS was virtually the only major provider of immigration legal aid in some areas (80% of matter starts in the Manchester area and 60% in the Bradford area, I understand), it is difficult to imagine how clients can possibly find alternative representation in the foreseeable future. It was bad enough when RMJ folded. IAS picked up quite a lot of the pieces, but there is no-one left to the same this time.
That said, any local providers who may be able to take on cases should be aware that the LSC is apparently willing to contemplate allocating IAS new matter starts to new providers, unlike at the time RMJ folded. An ILPA members meeting has been arranged on Thursday evening to discuss the crisis and ILPA has already been in discussion with the LSC about the situation.
The emphasis on reallocating matter starts is very ominous indeed for the future of IAS, as it sounds like total dismemberment rather than any attempt to save or hive off the offices that were performing well.
Immigration Advisory Service (“IAS”) is in Administration
The Immigration Advisory Service (IAS), the largest provider of publically funded immigration and asylum legal advice, advised today that it had been placed into administration. The IAS, a registered charity, has been in existence for 35 years, and employs 300 staff at 14 locations across England and Scotland. It is renowned for a large number of important legal precedent cases which have been taken through the Courts, including to the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights.
The Governments reforms include the removal of immigration from the scope of legal aid, and a 10% cut in legal aid fees for refugees seeking asylum within the UK. Immigration accounts for around 60% of IAS’s income. There are few organisations that could cope with the compound effect of removal of immigration from the scope of legal aid and a cut in fees for asylum clients.
The IAS has been in discussion with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) in an attempt to gain support for a solvent restructure of its operations. IAS had also tried to reach an agreement with LSC for an extended period to repay monies which (in common with many other firms) had been claimed in error, partly, in IAS’s view, due to the complex funding rules in place. The legal aid cuts put IAS in the position of needing to fund any repayment of these monies, from a much reduced income base, and as a result it has not proved possible to reach agreement on a way forward.
The IAS trustees regrettably decided that all avenues of support had been exhausted for IAS to seek a solvent restructure, and that they had no alternative but to place the organisation into administration. IAS administrators will be working closely with LSC over the next few days to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for all of IAS’s clients, and clients are advised to monitor IAS’s website where updates on arrangements will be posted. (www.iasuk.org)
Stephen Cork and Joanne Milner of Cork Gully LLP were appointed as joint administrators to the Immigration Advisory Service on Friday 8th July 2011.
Urgent advice to clients
Please do NOT visit any IAS office in person, even if you had an appointment booked, as all offices are now closed to such visits.
From 8 July 2011 we cannot do any more work on your case. To protect clients’ legal positions as far as possible in the circumstances we have done the following:
1. IAS has written to all Tribunals and Courts informing them that IAS is in administration. We have asked that they deal sympathetically with applications for extensions of time in which to lodge appeals or comply with Court or Tribunal directions, until clients find new representatives. You can download a copy of the appropriate letter to include with your application. However you must seek new representatives as soon as you can, and make your application or appeal as near to the deadline as possible.
2. If you have an appeal hearing listed in the Tribunal (First Tier or Upper Tier) within the next two weeks please be advised that IAS has notified the Presidents of the Tribunal (First Tier and Upper Tier asking for all such cases where IAS are listed as representatives to be adjourned for four weeks to enable clients to seek alternative representation. BUT you MUST still turn up with any witnesses at the hearing, in case an adjournment is not granted in your particular case. Unfortunately we will NOT be able to provide representation, even where we have prepared your case.
3. IAS has written to the UKBA Directors of immigration and asylum, notifying them of the situation. You can download a copy of the appropriate letter to include with any application which is lodged late, to show the reason for it’s being out of time.
You MUST also read and carefully follow the advice below:
Please do NOT visit any IAS office in person, even if you had an appointment arranged, unless asked to do so, as the offices will be closed.
1. If your case is already subject to an appeal (including an application for permission to appeal further) at the First Tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal, you must immediately inform the Tribunal in writing that your legal representative, IAS, has gone into administration, and that the Tribunal must write to you direct at your own address until you notify the Tribunal of your new representative. You must quote your Tribunal case reference number, which you will find on any letter to you from the Tribunal.
The Tribunal address is:
Loughborough Support Centre
PO Box 7866
You should send this letter recorded delivery and keep a copy of it
2. If your case is already subject to an appeal or an application for permission in the Court of Appeal, you must immediately inform the Court of Appeal, Civil Division in writing that your legal representative, IAS, has gone into administration, and that the Tribunal must write to you direct at your own address until you notify the Court of your new representative. You must quote your Court of Appeal case reference number, which you will find on any letter to you from your caseworker confirming that your case is in the Court of Appeal.
The address of the Court of Appeal is:
Court of Appeal Civil Division
Royal Courts of Justice
London WC2A 2LL
3. If your case is already subject an application for judicial review in the Administrative Court you must immediately inform the Administrative Court in writing that your legal representative, IAS, has gone into administration, and that the Tribunal must write to you direct at your own address until you notify the Administrative Court of your new representative. You must quote your Administrative Court case reference number, which you will find on any letter to you from your caseworker confirming that your case is in the Administrative Court.
The address of the London Administrative Court is:
Administrative Court Office
Royal Courts of Justice
London WC2A 2LL
(If your case has been started in one of the regional Administrative Courts the London court office will inform the regional court).
4. If you or your caseworker on your behalf have made an application to the UKBA, or you believe your case is “in the Legacy” and you are waiting for a response or decision from the UKBA, you must immediately write to the UKBA at:
Change of Representative
Croydon CR9 2BY
by recorded delivery, informing the UKBA that your legal representative, IAS, has gone into administration, and that the UKBA must write to you direct at your own address until you notify the UKBA of your new representative.
4. If you have a scheduled interview with the UKBA you MUST attend your interview as planned and retain the record of your interview provided by the UKBA until we advise you further regarding new representation.
5. If you have an appointment with an expert arranged by us please be advised that this has been cancelled. A new appointment, if necessary, may be arranged when you secure alternative representation.
5. If you have only recently contacted IAS, or if you have asked IAS to help with making an application or an appeal which has not yet been made, you should immediately look for a new legal representative, who will then be able to obtain a copy of your file at IAS, including any work done so far, and any evidence we have collected so far.
6. If IAS has informed you that we hold any original documents in our office, these will be kept safe, and returned to you in due course. Please write to the following address:
The Joint Administrators
Immigration Advisory Service
King Edward House
135a New Street
Birmingham B2 4QT
You must provide a safe address to which we can post your documents by recorded delivery, as the offices will not be in a position to receive personal callers.
IF YOUR CASE IS URGENT (you have just been detained; you have just received a decision to deport; you have been threatened with removal from the UK, appeal deadline within a few days), you should immediately seek new representatives. Those representatives will be able to explain that IAS has closed down, and that there may be difficulties getting quick access to your case papers.
Obtaining a copy of your case file
You, or your new representative, will be able to obtain a copy of your file by making a written request to the Birmingham office at the address above. Please provide a safe address, and allow 10 days for a reply.
SR Cork and J E Milner
11 July 2011