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UK Court threatens to name and shame solicitors who make "meritless applications."

Editorial Staff

An administrative Court in the UK has issued a warning to solicitors that it will require the attendance before it of the solicitor having conduct of a case plus the senior partner of the firm to give an explanation as to why applications are made late, are incomplete or have no merit - and, if it is not satisfied with the explanation - to publicly name them.

The warning, in an immigration case (Hamid v Secretary of State for the Home Department - citation number [2012] EWHC 3070 (Admin)) is stark.The Administrative Court - which is part of the Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division - has had enough of applications being made with the intent of delaying a deportation (now called a "removal") Order. To avoid ill-prepared applications, it has set out the information which it requires to be submitted in a form - a revised form N463.

The particular facts of the case are not, here, relevant save to say that a series of appeals failed and solicitors instructed by the deportee made an application to the Court at 4pm (the time the Court office closes) on 24th October: he was ordered to leave the UK on board a flight leaving at 09:15 on the 25th - before the Courts are open for business. Therefore, in order for the application to be heard in time, it would have to be heard out of hours.

The Court says that there are "a very substantial number of such cases now being made" and that, in order to get over the first hurdle, the reasons for urgency must be stated together with the reasons for any delay in the making of the application once it became known that "an immediate application might be necessary."

In its Judgment, the Court said "The form was revised because the Administrative Court faces an ever increasing large volume of applications in respect of pending removals said to require immediate consideration. Many are filed towards the end of the working day, often on the day of the flight or the evening before a morning flight. In many of these applications the person concerned has known for some time, at least a matter of days, of his removal. Many of these cases are totally without merit. The court infers that in many cases applications are left to the last moment in the hope that it will result in a deferral of the removal. "

The Administrative Court is not making new law: it cites R (Madan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2007] as saying "Such applications must be made promptly on the intimation of a deportation decision, and not await the actual fixing of removal arrangements. " That case also sets out what must be stated in the deportee's case.

In the Madan case, the judge said that the issue of a meritless case for the purposes of delaying a deportation can be regarded as professional misconduct by the solicitors concerned. Oddly, it seems that solicitors who practise in this area are, either, unaware of that decision or willing to take the risk.

In Hamid, Sir John Thomas, President of the Queen's Bench Division, was forthright: "we will for the future do the following. If any firm fails to provide the information required on the form and in particular explain the reasons for urgency, the time at which the need for immediate consideration was first appreciated and the efforts made to notify the defendant, the court will require the attendance in open court of the solicitor from the firm who was responsible, together with his senior partner. It will list not only the name of the case but the firm concerned. Non-compliance cannot be allowed to continue. " Further "if people persist in failing to follow the procedural requirements, they must realise that this court will not hesitate to refer those concerned to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. "

But it is not only the solicitors who will face consequences. If the case papers are not in order, "the judge may simply refuse to consider the application."

The Court issued a final - and even more chilling warning. The same policy will soon be applied to applications in other types of case; "These remarks apply equally to the form soon to be introduced for out of hours applications and the form for renewals when an application has been refused on the papers. "



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