The Crime and Courts Bill

The Crime and Courts Bill, which is currently passing through the final stages of parliamentary approval, was introduced into the House of Lords on 10th May 2012.  Amongst other provisions, the Bill is designed to produce significant long-term savings and more open and effective courts and tribunals.  There are two specific provisions that relate to Immigration Law:

Removal of Rights of Appeal in Relation to Family Visit Visas

Clause 26 of the Bill removes the right of appeal against the refusal of a family visit visa.  However, applicants will still have a right of appeal on human rights grounds.  It is of some concern that 38% of appeals in this category in 2010 – 11 were successful which should surely require the government to justify the introduction of this measure.

Transfer of Immigration and Nationality Judicial Review to the Upper Tribunal

Clause 27 of the Bill provides for the transfer of immigration and nationality judicial review from the High Court to the Upper Tribunal by removing the current statutory restriction on such transfers.  Interestingly, the Joint Committee on Human Rights opposes this Clause on the grounds that immigration and nationality cases often involve a risk of serious human rights violations such as deportation, torture or death and should therefore be heard by a judge of sufficient seniority.  There is also concern as to how the Upper Tribunal will cope with judicial reviews.  So far, there has been no government review into the Upper Tribunal’s exercise of its judicial review jurisdiction.  Some believe that all immigration and nationality judicial reviews should be heard in the High Court, whilst others in the sector are of the view that cases where liberty, life or freedom from torture are at stake should continue to be heard by a High Court judge.