No wonder the immigration and asylum appeal system is in such a mess.
In the 17 years I sat in this jurisdiction, the legislation spewed out by successive governments increased exponentially in complexity and volume. Predictions from the Home Office about levels of work were hopelessly inaccurate and judges were continually asked to do more and more for less and less.
All this impacted upon morale, resulting in unprecedented levels of salaried judges leaving. At one time the indications for fee-paid judges were that appeals would largely dry up. Little wonder, then, that many found other work to do. Surprise, surprise, these indications about levels of work were – yet again – proved wildly wrong. The result is that there are many appeals waiting to be heard but many judges, like me, who no longer have the motivation or commitment to accept the numerous additional bookings offered.
Every week appeals cannot be heard and hearings have to be cancelled, usually at very short notice, because there is no judge. What a pity that those responsible for increasing the level of tribunal hearings did not check beforehand to see if there were enough judges able and willing to sit.
If the immigration and asylum jurisdiction had treated judges as a valuable resource, instead of a ‘use and throw away’ tool; if Home Office decision-makers engaged their brains when making decisions; and if successive penny-pinching governments had adopted a more reasonable attitude to resource allocation, this mess would not exist.
Dr Stephen Pacey, North Muskham, Nottinghamshire