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What is a judicial review?

A judicial review is a type of legal challenge where an individual asks the High Court or Upper Tribunal to review the lawfulness of a decision, action or failure to act of a public body or government department. It can also be used to challenge secondary legislation, the immigration rules or policy, or the compatibility of an act of Parliament with the Convention rights under the ECHR.

This can only be used where there is no avenue of appeal or where all avenues of appeal have been exhausted. It is different from a statutory appeal because the court should not normally substitute what it thinks is the ‘correct’ decision, it will only decide if the decision made was lawful.

The judicial review process challenges the way a decision has been made and whether in fact the correct laws and procedures were used to reach that decision. The Judicial Review’s function is not to determine whether the outcome was necessarily correct.

When a judicial review may be suitable

  • If you have been told your asylum claim will be transferred to another European country under the Dublin regulations, and you wish to argue your human rights will be breached in that country.

  • If your asylum claim has been certified (no right of appeal within the UK)

  • If your further submissions have been rejected as not a fresh claim, with no right of appeal

  • If you have been detained unlawfully

  • If you have been refused permission to appeal at the Upper Tribunal

  • To try and challenge an imminent removal (apply for interim relief – an injunction). See below.

  • Your immigration application has been refused and you have no right of appeal on human rights grounds.

This is a very complex area of law and early preparation is the key. Having the assistance of an experienced immigration solicitor literally may make the difference between life as you know it in the UK and you being deported to wherever the Home Office considers ‘home’ to be. Taking on the Home Office is easier said than done and judges are becoming increasingly likely to dismiss claims as being totally without merit. The team at UK Immigration Solicitors are well experienced in producing favourable and formidable arguments on behalf of our clients to overturn Home Office decisions.

Speak to our assessment team now to confirm your eligibility and options for free on 0203 384 4389.

The Judicial Review Process

Pre-action protocol

Normally a person who wishes to challenge a decision of the Home Office should write first to the department asking for the decision to be reviewed. This is called the pre-action protocol (PAP)

PAP letters and the responses to them should be carefully considered and drafted by a knowledgeable expert. This is a good opportunity to prevent judicial review proceedings being brought at all, either by re-making the decision in the applicant’s favour (where appropriate) or by setting out clearly the reasons for maintaining the existing decision.

Paper permission stage

If a person wants a judicial review of a decision then an application must first be made before the Upper Tribunal or High Court for permission. This should be done as soon as possible, but normally no longer than 3 months from the date of the decision, although the courts can decide to accept applications after that time limit. The person who brings a claim for judicial review is known as the claimant (applicant in the Upper Tribunal) and the person against whom the judicial review is brought is the defendant (the respondent in the Upper Tribunal), normally the Secretary of State for the Home Department (‘SSHD’) but it can be an Immigration Officer or Entry Clearance Officer when their decision is being challenged.

References in the remainder of this document are to claimants and defendants but apply equally to applicants and respondents. The claimant sets out the grounds of their claim, and includes any evidence they wish to rely on and asks for permission to be granted. Once received by the Upper Tribunal or High Court the application is ‘sealed’ by the court. This means the court stamps the application to show it has been received. The papers must then be served on GLD who will in turn notify the Home Office in cases progressing through High Court or directly on the Home Office in Upper Tribunal cases. The Upper Tribunal Rules do not formally require service of the sealed claim form although letters issued by the Upper Tribunal do inform applicants that they must do this.

Once the grounds have been served on GLD or the Home Office, there are 21 days to file a paper response to the claim, this is known as an Acknowledgement of Service (AoS). The AoS allows the Home Office to confirm whether it accepts the claim detailed in the judicial review or whether we wish to contest the claim. If we are contesting the claim the AoS, will include our summary grounds of defence (SG) and any evidence the Home Office wishes to rely on as to why the claim should not be granted permission to proceed. Once the court receives these documents a single judge will look at the papers and decide whether or not to grant permission. The test for granting permission is whether the judge thinks the claim is arguable. This is a low threshold.

However, a significant majority of claims which are not settled pre-permission are refused permission to proceed. If the judge does not think the claim is arguable, the judicial review will be refused permission to proceed. Both parties are then notified of this decision by means of a court order. If permission is refused, the judge may also certify the claim as being ’totally without merit’. This is added when the judge considers the claim is completely hopeless. A ‘totally without merit’ finding stops the claimant from renewing their Page 7 judicial review to an oral permission hearing, but they may appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal.

If the judge does consider the claim to be arguable, he or she will grant permission. In this circumstance, the case will proceed to a full substantive hearing. In either case, both parties are notified of the judge’s decision by means of a court order.

Oral permission stage

In some cases, the judge will not be able to reach a decision on whether permission should be granted on the basis of the paper documents before him. In these circumstances, an oral permission hearing (OPH) will be ordered.

Also, if permission is refused on the papers a claimant has 7 days plus 2 working days for postage (High Court) and 9 days (Upper Tribunal) in which they can ‘renew’ the application to an OPH. This time period can be abridged to a shorter period if the application is deemed urgent. If so, this will be stated on the Order refusing permission on the papers.

At an OPH the claimant (normally via their legal representatives) before a single judge will explain why they should be granted permission and the Home Office will be given an opportunity to explain why permission should not be granted. The Home Office will instruct a barrister (counsel) to argue why permission should be refused. The Upper Tribunal or High Court will then decide whether permission should be granted. A claim that is certified as being ‘totally without merit’ cannot renew to an OPH.

Sometimes an OPH is heard at the same time as the substantive hearing and this is called a rolled up hearing. This is more likely to happen where one party has made an application for the case to be expedited (ie heard sooner).

A rolled up hearing has the advantage of getting the matter dealt with quickly and in practice is cheaper than the two stage process. However, it does not allow for much time to prepare the substantive defense. At a rolled up hearing the judge will decide whether to grant permission as well as deciding the outcome of the judicial review if permission is granted.

Substantive position

Once a case is granted permission to proceed it will go on to a substantive hearing, unless settled or withdrawn, although occasionally there may be a prehearing known as a case management conference, or an interim relief hearing to take a view on an urgent element of the judicial review.

Once permission is granted the defendant must submit detailed grounds of defence within a Page 8 specified time frame (35 days from the date of permission grant). Nearer the hearing date counsel for both sides will submit written arguments as to why the claim should either be allowed (on behalf of the claimant) or dismissed (on behalf of the Home Office). These are called skeleton arguments.

The case will then have a substantive court hearing at which oral arguments are made by both the claimant and defendant. The court will then deliver a final judgment, which will either allow the claim and provide a form of relief in a court order, or dismiss the claim upholding the Home Office’s position.

Onward appealing (section 7- Post Hearing/Onward appeals)

It is possible to appeal a judicial review decision with permission. This includes a refusal of permission, a finding that a case is ‘totally without merit’ or the final judgment.

Settling cases

A judicial review claim can be settled at any point before a substantive hearing, if the Home Office and the claimant are able to come to an agreement on resolving the matter under dispute. Discussions between the parties about settlement may be conducted on a ‘without prejudice basis’ which means that the court will not see the relevant correspondence. Agreements to settle are then set out in consent order, which is provided to the court (although in some circumstances elements of the agreement are kept private between the parties – this applies particularly to awards of damages).

The court will normally approve (seal) a consent order signed by both sides at which point it becomes a binding court order. The court could potentially disagree that the judicial review should be settled as proposed but this is extremely rare. A claimant can also withdraw their judicial review at any point should they wish to do so.

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What is the benefit of using UK Immigration Solicitors?

Immigration rules are complex and subject to regular changes and revisions. This itself presents problems as it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they are aware of and have complied with any changes to the routes, processes and evidence requirements. 

Failure to meet strict rules is likely to result in the application being refused which, in turn, is likely have an emotional and financial strain on you and your family. 

It is our job to ensure we are fully aware of the latest immigration rules, policies and procedures. We don’t leave matters to chance. Once you become a client of ours, we explain our strategy and tell you exactly how we propose to get you the right result. We will pinpoint the positives and negatives of your circumstances and explain where issues may arise and what would need to be done to fix them. We provide step by step guidance and advice throughout the entire process professionally. Our vast experience allows us to foresee problems before they arise and pro-actively adopt a strategic action plan.

Our legal fees are always agreed and fixed with you right at the beginning of your case, so you have complete peace of mind and control over the costs to ensure there are no restrictions or unpleasant surprises.

There are many online agencies, advisors and marketing companies who claim to be immigration experts but, provide very little expertise.

Let us be very clear here, if you are paying for someone just to fill in the forms for you, you should think about how you can put that money to better use and avoid gambling with your future by using inexperienced and ineffective companies.

We are a fully regulated nationwide, multi award winning law firm that specialises in immigration. Having more than 60 years of combined expertise and having handled more than 8,000 cases we have unrivalled experience and expertise to ensure you get the right result first time around – Don’t take our word for it though, check out our reviews to see why our clients trust us with their futures. We are rated 5* across the board and 98% of our clients have confirmed that they would recommend us to others. *

We have illustrated our typical scope of service below so you can understand what we do for you as paid of our service:

 

  • Our immigration specialists carry out a free detailed assessment with you to understand your circumstances and needs.
  • The collated information is then reviewed by a senior immigration solicitor who will have no less than 8 years’ immigration experience.
  • Based on the information collected, the senior solicitor will then confirm what your options are and will also confirm if we are able to help you.
  • We will offer you an Agreed Fixed Fee quotation for us to handle your entire case until initial conclusion without obligation. 
  • If we have officially taken your instructions, we will create a client file for you and collect detailed initial information.
  • We will then ensure you receive a personalised one-to-one legal consultation with a senior immigration solicitor who will take your full instructions by exploring your circumstances in detail and advise you on the best way to meet your objectives. The solicitor will explain the relevant legislations and provide you with advice on the steps that we would need to take to get a successful result.
  • The senior solicitor who carried out your legal consultation will then send you detailed written legal advice explaining everything that needs to be done and which documents will be required as part of the process. We will tell you about any problem areas and formulate a strategy to overcome/mitigate these. 
  • We will carefully review any documents that you have provided in support of the application. These documents are then validated and formatted to ensure that they meet the UKVI specified evidence requirements. Where they do not, we will explain what needs to be done to address the issues.
  • Where required, we will prepare any necessary written legal arguments or representations that are required to support your application and gain an approval. Often, we may be required to make discretionary submissions.
  • We will complete a draft application and share this with you to ensure that all parties are happy with the representations that will be submitted to the Home Office.
  • We advise you on what application processing routes are available. In some cases, there are fast track or premium processing routes available. We may be required to book a Home Office appointment on your behalf.  Will also be able to confirm typical processing times for any processing centre in the world. We explain all options, routes and fees comprehensively allowing you to make the best choice.
  • We lodge the application on your behalf using our secure authenticated processes. Whilst your application is pending, we continue to ensure you receive maximum legal protection and ensure that your rights and allowances are upheld throughout the processing stage. We ensure that you are aware of and remain compliant with the immigration rules and regulations during this period. We will also keep you updated on the progress of your matter.
  • If any follow up work is required in response to any queries raised by the UKVI, we will also deal with these as part of the comprehensive service.
  • We secure a decision on your matter and further advise you on the relevant implications of that decision. If required, we will also confirm if any secondary applications are required and brief you on the necessary process and procedure for those also.

Why should I use UK immigration solicitors to help me?

Here are just some of the reasons to choose us:

 * We are the UK’s #1 Immigration Specialist Law Firm

* We are a fully SRA regulated law firm so you are working directly with our in house legal team

* No agencies, middlemen or outsourcing

* We have achieved 99% success rate across all application types

* We have a 24 hour helpline that operates 7 days a week – 365 days a year

* We have multiple offices across the UK but 90% of our clients are not required to visit in person

* We have more than 60 years combined immigration expertise

* Our team have handled more than 8,000 cases

* We offer a free initial assessment which will explain your options and check your eligibility for your chosen route

* We operate a 100% Agreed Fixed Fee model with all fees fixed and agreed before work is started

* 98% of our clients would recommend us to family & friends

* Our average rating is 4.6/5 across major review platforms (based on over 300 reviews).

What is a free needs assessment?

If you have an immigration related problem or question, you can have a free assessment with a member of our assessments team.

The assessor will establish why you are calling and what you are looking for assistance with. The assessor will ask you a series of questions to determine your circumstances in relation to your objectives.

The assessment is 100% private and confidential. As we are a private law firm, we work with our clients to overturn Government decisions daily. We do not share any information with any third party.

Although the assessor will be a trained immigration specialist, they are not solicitors and therefore will not give you detailed legal advice or guidance.

If you want to establish what your options are and the best way forward for you, your assessor will collate the necessary information and then speak with one of the resident senior solicitors at the firm to determine what your options are, if and how we could assist and confirm whether we would be prepared to take your case. If we can assist, you will be provided with an Agreed Fixed Fee quotation which is a single legal fee to cover the firms cost of representation agreed from the outset and binding for all parties.

The free assessment is no obligation and you are merely given clarity on your position and options to move forward.

If you have a complex matter or require legal advice regarding a specific issue, you will most likely require a legal consultation.

This is a separate service and is chargeable at the prevailing rates.

Please note, UK Immigration Solicitors are a private law firm and are not part of the Government. We do not accept legal aid instructions. Although we are happy to assist genuine callers, we are not a directory service and sadly are unable to provide you with Government telephone numbers.

To get started you can either call us on 0203 384 4389 or complete the assessment form and one of the team will call you

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