This Hello! style headline is perhaps the clearest sign yet that the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal will be abolished and amalgamated into the unified tribunal. The Home Office planning documents now state that the AIT will be scrapped, the AIT stakeholder meetings keep getting postponed and now the President of the new unified tribunal is sitting on AIT cases. For non immigration lawyers reading this, it is completely unheard of for a Lord Justice of the Court of Appeal to be deciding visit visa appeals and the like.
I wonder what he made of his experience.
The word is that the delay in announcing the change to the unified tribunal is because the Home Office wants to make sure the new system is sufficiently streamlined. The existing tribunals structure involves a two-stage permission to appeal system (first ask the lower tier for permission, then ask the upper tier for permission) which seems likely to be dropped in immigration cases. I’ve no idea what other ‘streamlining’ they have in mind. There has been an undertaking that the procedure rules for the immigration bit of the unified tribunal will be drafted by the normal drafting committee, meaning that the Home Office will not get their grubby hands on it. I’d be surprised if the Home Office was willing to abandon the asylum service provisions (Home Office gets served then serves it on the asylum seeker), so it may be that the delay is about legislating on some parts of the new process so that the procedure rules committee is prevented from meddling.
Does this mean that there will start to be costs awards in immigration cases? A two-edged sword if ever there was one, but perhaps the only way to make the Home Office start to comply with directions, something they are notoriously poor at right now.