Judges' Despair as Asylum Cases Seize Up the Courts

Daily Mail (London), January 24, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Judges' Despair as Asylum Cases Seize Up the Courts


Byline: RICHARD PRICE;COLIN FERNANDEZ

BRITAIN'S most senior judges are furious at wasting thousands of hours on 'hopeless' legal challenges by asylum seekers.

One in four of all judicial reviews in the High Court in the past year were lodged by refugees and funded almost entirely by taxpayers.

Almost 3,000 migrants appealed to the High Court to try to overturn their failed asylum applications.

Though the cases used up thousands of hours of court time and millions of pounds from the public purse, less than three per cent were successful.

This week a Daily Mail investigation highlighted the alarming extent to which our most senior judges waste their time hearing applications that are doomed from the outset.

Over four days at the Royal Courts of Justice we witnessed: * Twenty-four hours of court time dealing with asylum cases, of which two-thirds were rejected; * More than three- quarters of those involved failed to turn up; * One batch of four identical appeals criticised by a Law Lord as 'devoid of merit' and 'an abuse of the process of this court'; * Asylum seekers appealing against judges' decisions despite being exposed for making multiple bogus claims in different names; * One Nepalese woman seeking asylum because her husband in Kathmandu suspected her of having an affair; * A Croatian man who had failed to file any documents to the court because he was 'exhausted'.

Before coming before the High Court, most of the cases had already been rejected by the Home Secretary, an asylum adjudicator and an immigration appeal tribunal.

As well as occupying the time of senior judges, each case requires hundreds of hours of work by clerks, solicitors, barristers, security guards, shorthand typists - and, in many cases, interpreters.

The flood of appeals has led to growing frustration among judges and court officials forced to deal with asylum cases of little or no merit rather than concentrating on more deserving ones.

One court official said: 'The number of asylum cases coming before us is a long- standing joke.

'The amount of work spent on utterly pointless cases is beyond belief.

' We spend days on end preparing for hearings which are a waste of everyone's time.

'The irony is that hardly any of the asylum seekers turn up in court, and once the decision has gone against them they disappear without trace.

'It is making a mockery of the British legal system and costing a fortune in the process.' Last month Lord Justice Brooke, the second most senior civil judge in the land, hit out at the number of hopeless asylum cases coming before the Court of Appeal.

He said: 'The courts are receiving an increasing number of applications in these cases that are totally devoid of merit, and judges must be readier than ever to use their powers to strike out cases.

'Taking this course in clear cases will save the massive amount of time now taken up by the administrative processing of a case before it is listed for hearing in the ordinary way.' In a separate statement, Mr Justice Kay said 'a vast amount of public money' was being expended on litigation, 'much of which ought to be avoidable and which is clogging up the processes of the Administrative Court'.

A Home Office spokesman said the Government was taking steps to tackle the problem through the new Asylum and Immigration Bill.

Last month the Home Secretary outlined plans to introduce a single tier of appeal with no right of judicial review for asylum seekers.

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