“It is therefore difficult to accept the Government’s proffered justification for these fee increases, especially when one considers that the non-citizens are often at a financial disadvantage in comparison to citizen-users of other tribunals. If the UK wishes to remain a world leader in terms of its justice system, it should seek to ensure that access to justice remains a viable option for all people, regardless of their origin or financial position.”
Work recently began on a wall in Calais, funded by the UK government, to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from crossing the Channel to Britain. Nearly simultaneously, the government announced that it would increase immigration tribunal fees by over 500%, erecting a different type of barrier—to access to justice. It was claimed that doing so would bring in an estimated £34 million in income annually and preserve the functioning of the tribunals.
The decision to increase fees was made despite the fact that responses to a public consultation conducted by the government overwhelmingly disagreed with the proposals. The suggestion to increase fees in the First-tier Tribunal (the first port of call when a person wants to challenge an immigration or asylum decision by the state) was opposed by 142 of 147 respondents. Introducing fees in the Upper Tribunal (where appeals against decisions in the First-tier Tribunal are heard) was…
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