On 31 July 2018, the Tribunal published new Guidance on when the Home Office may be required to pay the legal costs of an Appellant who wins their case.
It is hoped that this new guidance will encourage the Home Office to make better quality decisions and to re-consider poor or incorrect decisions before an appeal is heard, where there is little possibility of them winning an appeal.
This will hopefully help to reduce the very significant delays that appellants wait for appeals to be heard, often continuing to leave family members separated from loved ones. And where a case does proceed to a full appeal to make it easier for appellants to at least claim their legal costs from the Home Office.
In appeals to the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, costs can be awarded when one party or their legal representative has behaved “unreasonably”. Many migrants, their families and their legal representatives have had experience of receiving unfair or factually or legally incorrect decisions from the Home Office. It is now much clearer that it is unreasonable for the Home Office to make decisions that are clearly wrong and for them to defend those decision on appeal.
This new guidance does not mean there is a general principle that those who win their appeals should always have their legal costs paid by the Home Office, but it makes it clear that the Home Office should concede appeals it is clearly going to lose, and do so at an early stage.
Where an appeal is lodged, the Home Office are required to review their decision within 6 weeks and withdraw it if the appeal has a good chance of success.
Claims for legal costs to be claimed from the Home Office need to be made within 28 days of a decision being withdrawn or of a decision allowing an appeal being sent to the appellant where the matter proceeded to a full appeal hearing.
If you need legal advice on appealing a decision the Home Office has made or making a claim for legal costs, please contact us.