When top London immigration solicitors read the news headlines that the Government had announced migrants did not need an immigration solicitor to make an indefinite Leave to remain they recalled, with a bit of bemusement, that it was only a month earlier, in March 2019, that the Government released a 294 page statement of changes to the immigration rules. At the time of its release, even the best London immigration solicitors thought it was expecting a lot of Immigration Solicitors to digest the contents of such a vast document of planned immigration changes, the majority of which were being brought in quickly because of Brexit.
The Government comment about Immigration Solicitors
was made in the Home Office's response to a consultation held on Windrush compensation. The press picked up the comment and, in some newspapers, the headline immigration
news was the Government comment that migrants and immigration
applicants did not need immigration
legal advice. The focus on the Government’s launch of the official Windrush Compensation Scheme for victims was lost.
The compensation scheme is said, by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to be the latest step in the Government's commitment to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation.
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It is reported that the Home Office is expecting to pay Windrush compensation amounting to about £200 million to in the region of 15,000 eligible claimants.
What has angered the top London immigration solicitors
is the Government comment, in the consultation response document, that the Windrush compensation awards will only include a limited, fixed contribution towards any legal advice fees incurred by Windrush victims. The Government will not reimburse the full amount of legal fees.
You may think that it is just another case of “fat cat lawyers” moaning about their legal fees being cut. That is not the case.
The Home Office's Windrush consultation response said: "The Government's position is that obtaining legal advice is not necessary in making an immigration application and that no advantage in the application process should accrue to people who choose to access, and are able to afford legal advice, over those who cannot."
The top London immigration solicitors
say that the Home Office erroneously told Windrush victims that they were not entitled to remain in the UK. As Windrush victims viewed the UK as ‘home‘, many applied to the Home Office to regularise their immigration
status. Most felt unable to tackle the Home Office on their own and paid Immigration Solicitors
to lodge an application to stay in the UK.
Although Windrush victims paid the Immigration Solicitors
for their immigration
services, the Home Office state that Windrush compensation claimants should only be able to recover up to £500 in the legal fees they paid to their immigration
advisors. It is therefore not the Immigration Solicitors
who will lose out but the Windrush victims who have already paid their solicitors for advice on how to stay in the UK, having been wrongly told by the Home Office that they were not entitled to stay in their home country.
Stephen Slater’s thoughts on the Windrush Compensation Scheme
Stephen Slater of OTS Solicitors says “the Government claim that "obtaining legal advice is not necessary in making an immigration application and that no advantage in the application process should accrue to people who choose to access, and are able to afford legal advice, over those who cannot"
simply beggars belief.
“Nationality law is one of the most complex areas of immigration law
in the entire discipline. The Government itself caused the Windrush debacle by failing to properly apply its own primary legislation to Commonwealth citizens.
“A Windrush claim is a highly complex matter turning on retained rights to settlement, abode and citizenship over decades of statutory change.
“In Robinson v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 11 in the Supreme Court, Lord Lloyd-Jones said “As will be apparent from this judgment, the structure of both primary and secondary legislation in this field has reached such a degree of complexity that there is an urgent need to make the law and procedure clear and comprehensible”.
“Sir Ernest Ryder, the Senior President of Tribunals, said in evidence to the Constitution Committee of the House of Lords in December in 2016: “We have had eight immigration Acts in 12 years, three EU directives and approximately—my apologies for being approximate—30 statutory instruments. The immigration rules themselves have been amended 97 times over the same period, which is approximately eight times a year, and are four times larger, and in a smaller typeface, than they were 10 years ago. The immigration rules no longer contain all or indeed most of the policy that is to be implemented, which is of course their primary purpose. The policy is separately provided in—if I may say so—rather dense and unconsolidated guidance that one can access through the Home Office website, but that generally does not show you the previously existing guidance on the same topic, or how the guidance has changed. If you are an unwitting litigant whose first language is not English and you have no recourse to public funding, because this is an immigration case, not an Asylum case, your chances of accessing any of that material and putting it together in a coherent way are negligible”.
“The third edition of Fransman's British nationality
Law runs to 1942 pages. The plethora of British Protectorates Protected States and Protected Persons Order's relating to each Commonwealth County read in conjunction with historic statements of changes to the immigration rules
are not available on-line. It is impossible to establish a current Windrush claim without reference to the historical position at the time the Windrush claimant arrived in the United Kingdom.
“The Government knows its own failings are exposed by historic Windrush claims and the denial of legal assistance is a conscious strategy to prevent scrutiny of unlawful decisions by the Home Office”.
Oshin Shahiean’s thoughts on the Windrush Compensation Scheme
“I have a great deal of respect for other professions and trades. I do not prepare my own accounts or file my own tax returns. That is the job of my accountant. Likewise, if I had a plumbing emergency I would expect my home insurance company to refund me the cost of calling out an emergency plumber, rather than expect me to be able to figure out how to sort out the leak on my own with the help of a YouTube video guide and a sticking plaster.
“That is how the Government attitude towards reimbursing Windrush complainants’ legal fees strikes me. If you were dealing with an insurance company, you would complain about the recovery scheme and I think the same applies to the Government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme.
“The Government has said that it is committed to righting the wrongs of the Windrush generation. As one of the London immigration solicitors
who worked hard to protect the Windrush generation from injustice it seems to me that the best London immigration solicitors
should stand up again for the Windrush Compensation Scheme claimants on their road to justice.”
How can OTS Solicitors help?
If so, please call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 for expert help from our team of Legal 500 recommended Immigration Solicitors. We will be happy to help you address your immigration law query.