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Re-accreditation woes

Re-accreditation woes

I’m reluctant to post on this as it causing so much anger in the sector at the moment and spilled blood seems quite possible right now. I’d rather it wasn’t mine.

In order to undertake publicly funded immigration work, a person must be accredited by the Law Society. To get accredited that person must pass stringent all-day written and interview examinations. Once accredited, that is it. I was one of the first 20 or so people to get accredited in 2005 in the pilot round and I am still accredited today, without having to do anything further.

Until now. After years of faffing around, the powers that be have suddenly sprung on everyone the need to get re-accredited. This was always going to happen, and the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority have had years to sort it out, consult and so forth. Instead, they have out of the blue announced that all 1800 publicly funded immigration lawyers will be summoned in alphabetical batches to sit a 2.5 hour examination on unknown subjects and that if they fail they will no longer be able to practice from 31 July 2010. There seems to be no mention of re-sits.

Unsurprisingly, immigration lawyers are not terribly happy about this. Everyone is rightly concerned about the apparent one-strike-and-you-are-out nature of the process, which is plain ridiculous. Some are furious and very much on the war path. Others sound rather panicky. Accusations are starting to fly.

An organisation called Central Law Training is running the show and is alleged to have devised the exam schedule. They also provide training on how to pass the exams. I’m SURE there’s no conflict of interest there, nor any incentive for CLT to create panic in the sector. It’s merely like drugs companies discovering illnesses that require drug therapies. Got a problem? How unfortunate. We can help…

It makes me wonder that happened to the vaunted UKBA accreditation scheme for caseowners. I seem to remember assurances were given at stakeholder meetings that it would be in place by the first quarter of 2010, but nothing much seems to have happened.

There’s no sign of requiring immigration barristers to pass any examinations, I should say…

Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.

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