Lord Chancellor faces JR for legal advice from immigration detainees | News



The Lord Chancellor illegally failed to ensure effective access to justice for immigration detainees by allowing “incompetent” companies to provide legal advice, the High Court said today.

Campaign group Detention Action has filed a judicial review of the Detainee Counseling Surgery Program (DDAS), which offers a free 30-minute legal counseling session to people held in immigration removal centers.

The Lord Chancellor would have “not used his powers …

One in six DDAS providers was peer reviewed as’ incompetent ‘, suggesting that 2,300 inmates were counseled by’ a provider deemed incompetent to conduct even general immigration legal aid work, not to mention the specialist work in detention, ”said Detention Action lawyer Ben Jaffey. QC said today.

He argued in written submissions that the Lord Chancellor “hampered his discretion” by deciding not to suspend or remove a provider from the program without a second peer review finding the company to be incompetent.

Jaffey said: “The practical effect is that vulnerable inmates in custody are used as guinea pigs versus a counselor already assessed as lacking competence, to see if there will be any improvement. Consequently [the lord chancellor’s] failures, several thousand immigration detainees have been endangered – and continue to be in danger – of being denied their constitutional right of access to justice, ”he added.

A lack of prompt and competent legal advice for detainees meant that “unfounded and ill-prepared claims are made by bad advisers, often at the last moment,” he also argued.

Jaffey said the Lord Chancellor was in breach of his duty under section 1 (1) of the Legal Aid and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and called on the court to declare the operation of the DDAS program illegal .

Malcolm Birdling, on behalf of the Lord Chancellor, said in written submissions that “the complaint is essentially about the actions of individual suppliers”. He argued that the Lord Chancellor has “kept a close watch” on the DDAS program and “has responded urgently to problems as they arise”.

“The plaintiff pointing out isolated failures or errors in the day-to-day operation of the system is not near the bar for showing illegality or irrationality,” Birdling said.

The question for the court was whether the Lord Chancellor has “by creating a system whereby all detained persons are entitled to 30 minutes of free legal advice … without qualification, as many times as they wish, has created a risk It is real that people are denied access to justice, “said Birdling.” You just have to state this proposal to be rejected, “he concludes.

The hearing before Judge Calver ends tomorrow.



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