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On 20 November 2020, the High Court handed down judgment in R (ota Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v President of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)

The Court has allowed the challenge brought by the Claimant, JCWI, to Covid-19 Guidance published by the President of the UT(IAC) which addressed determining error of law appeals without a hearing. The Guidance was published on 23 March 2020; hundreds of asylum and human rights appeals have been determined without a hearing since then.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Fordham found that this guidance was ultra vires and unlawful. In communicating that these error of law appeals should normally be decided on the papers rather than at remote hearings, and in indicating that the importance of the case to the individual was not in itself a reason to convene a hearing, the guidance conflicted with basic common law requirements of procedural fairness and misstated the law.

The President has, in response to the Judgment, withdrawn the unlawful guidance. He has also undertaken to use all reasonable endeavours to notify all individual appellants who lost their appeals, or who unsuccessfully defended appeals by the Secretary of State, of this judgment and to indicate that they should seek legal advice. 

The Claimant, JCWI, was represented by Charlotte Kilroy QC, Naina Patel and Rachel Jones, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.  

The judgment can be accessed here.

For coverage of the story, please see The National, The Law Gazette and The Public Law Project.

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