UK Sponsors and businesses should carefully select their immigration lawyers to ensure they are professionally qualified. There are many businesses claiming to be immigration law firms with little specialist expertise and poor working practices or are merely OISC regulated (i.e not regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (“SRA”). The standard of legal advice by a law firm without specialisation in immigration law has left cases ‘utterly hopeless and/or unprofessionally prepared’ (R (On the Application Of Akram & Anor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1359 (Admin)).
Permission to Judicial Review
In R (On the Application Of Akram & Anor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1359 (Admin), Sir Brian Leveson considered an application for permission to judicial review. This case involved two brothers of Pakistani origin, whose application had been compromised due to their solicitor’s ‘unprofessional’ actions. In short, the chronology of the immigration case involves numerous applications made by a firm of solicitors all of which failed, they were as follows:
- various applications were made for visas all of which were refused;
- applications were made to the First Tier Immigration Tribunal and to the Upper Tribunal, all of which failed due to procedural mistakes. At least one of which was based upon failure to pay the correct fees;
- thereafter further applications were made which were also refused;
- appeals from these refusals were dismissed; and
- at the end, an application to the High Court for permission to apply for judicial review was also refused.
The importance of choosing the right immigration law firm was overlooked by the applicants who then fell victim to the solicitors who charged legal fees of nearly £5000 with ‘the promise of experienced counsel being instructed to fight the case…’. Sir Leveson concluded that the solicitors breached their duty to their clients by entrusting ‘the case to an inexperienced caseworker… The solicitors failed to understand even ‘the basic rules and procedures which apply.’
The solicitors accepted that the application was ‘badly drafted and failed to identify the relevant principles’ governing immigration law.
The importance of choosing the right immigration lawyers
There is often a misconception by businesses, entrepreneurs and investors alike that law firms without specialisation in immigration law will be in a position to handle the complexities that follow the immigration process. Immigration tribunals are flooded with Applicants who are left vulnerable by what is now a shockingly familiar and ‘depressing pattern in which legal representatives demonstrate a remarkable lack of knowledge’ and complete disregard for the substantive and procedural rules governing immigration law.
A lack of knowledge demonstrated by some law firms means immigration applications are often made in an incorrect way or with incorrect documents at the initial stage. These may then be immediately rejected by the Home Office and (unlike a refused application which can carry a right of appeal) deemed invalid. This could leave an applicant in muddy waters as they may well find themselves in detention facing imminent removal and if not in detention they may be deemed an overstayer unless corrective action is taken. This can cause unnecessary delay for employers who do not have the benefit of specialised and professional legal advice.
Choosing the right law firm from the beginning will not only allow for an easy mind in preparing for an application, but will also mean that in the long run sponsors and businesses will save time and money with a specialist law firm who follow the strict letter of the law and the Solicitors Regulations Guidelines.
Our team of experienced and professionally qualified immigration solicitors and barristers
Our team bear in mind the paramount duty of all legal representatives to act in your best interest whilst complying with the strict letter of the law. Our team of specialists can be distinguished from other law firms with our client tailored approach and scrutiny of options available to you from the outset. We will be able to advise you in respect of the merits of your application by providing you with advice from our leading team of barristers before your matter even reaches the Home Office.
If you have instructed legal representatives and you are unhappy with their conduct you can contact us to discuss your case so that we can provide you with a case assessment. To contact one of our Immigration Solicitors or Immigration Barristers please complete our legal case assessment form and we will get in touch or call us now on 0845 8622 529 for a free telephone assessment and free case assessment.