UK judge criticises solicitors for worthless challenges in immigration cases

One of the UK's most senior judges has criticised solicitors in immigration cases for making meritless last-minute applications for injunctions which are unsupported by any proper arguments. He also criticised them for a failure to tell the court, as they are required to do, of any reasons why the court might want to refuse their applications. He warned them that, in future, similar failures would see them being reported to the Solicitor's Regulation Authority.

Sir John Thomas, the third most senior judge in England and Wales, said that such applications place 'great strain' on the court system. He said they are an abuse of that system and promised that 'vigorous action' will be taken against solicitors who act in a similar way in future.

The judge was commenting on the cases of three asylum seekers who were to be deported from the UK. In each case, the solicitors concerned had failed to comply with their duty to make full disclosure to the court, including the disclosure of any reasons why the court should not grant an injunction. Sir John said that, if the three solicitors had complied with their duty to the court, the applications would not have been made because it would have been obvious that they could never succeed.

Sir John said that the applications for injunctions had not contained accurate information about the case, such as the fact that similar applications had already been dismissed.

Sir John named the solicitors involved as S Sathananthan of S Satha & Co, M Hassan of M O Hassan and Co and V Nwosu of Dylan Konrad Kreolle. All three apologised to the court. The judge said 'It must be appreciated…that it is absolutely essential that there is put on the face of the submission all the points that tell against the grant of relief.'

Sir John said that a great many such claims were being made by solicitors for people facing deportation, often on the day of a planned deportation. It was often the case, he said, that the person being deported, and therefore his solicitors, knew the date of deportation and yet the application, which often stood absolutely no chance of success, was made at the very last minute.

'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. These late, meritless applications by people who face removal or deportation are an intolerable waste of public money, a great strain on the resources of this court and an abuse of a service this court offers. The court therefore intends to take the most vigorous action against any legal representatives who fail to comply with the rules.

Sir John said that, in future, if applications did not contain all the information that they should, even that which was unhelpful to the applicant's case, the court would order the relevant solicitor and a senior partner of the firm to attend the hearing and be identified in court. He also said that, where proper grounds were not given in an application, the court might very well refuse to even consider the application and he warned of severe sanctions for offending firms.

'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.'

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