A fly on the wall: A typical day waiting at an Immigration Tribunal venue

Imagine your first time as an Appellant at an immigration Tribunal hearing venue. What would you expect? Regular refreshments of free tea and biscuits as you wait your turn to be heard by a Judge?  After all, you have paid at least £140.00 towards the Tribunal appeal fee.  Would you expect to arrive and find 20 or so people crammed in a waiting room with hardly any seating space?  What if you are overwhelmed by all this and are too nervous to approach an Usher for updates? Would you simply sit there not knowing what next to expect as the hours go by? Would you anticipate the Usher approaching and addressing you by name since they would have taken your name down from the beginning or would you expect to be addressed en masse along with the rest of the visitors?

And your trusted legal representative? Would they unexpectedly disappoint you and start taking instructions and advising you in the midst of strangers for all to hear, or would they take you to a consultation room or somewhere quieter and private   so as to speak with you?  Surely they wouldn’t overcommit and deal with your case along with another person’s at the very same hearing venue whilst you wait?


Imagine now the conversations and on goings below as relating to an almost typical day waiting at an immigration hearing venue.


(1) The boisterous Usher:


Usher: Where is your lawyer?


Appellant: He has just gone over to Tesco’s.


Usher: When he comes back tell him that I have news for him.


Appellant: Good news or bad news?


The Usher saunters off without responding.


Usher returns after a while and addresses the entire waiting room( 26 persons): Right!! Everybody from Court 1, regarding the detainees for Wormwood Scrubs? We have just heard there is some problem with the papers for one of them. They are expected to arrive here at half past one. I can’t tell you more for the simple reason we don’t know what the hell happened. Okay? See you later.


After 45mins, the Usher comes back again: Update for people waiting for Wormwood scrubs detainees – they will now arrive between half past 12 and half past 1. That’s the situation now.


Usher, looking around: Now the other people have disappeared! Uurgghhhh!


At 12.43 the Usher returns again: Where is the other surety?


A Legal representative: They are not here but I have my sureties here.


Usher, pointing a finger at the Legal Representative: I know your sureties are here. If you want to come inside and see your client, come now.


The Usher walks away quickly, without waiting for the legal representative. The legal representative gets up hurriedly, papers falling from her lap onto the floor. She is in a hurry to catch up with the Usher before he reaches the secure door leading to the detainees.



(2)When a Legal Representative unravels:


At 12.39, one of the legal Representatives(LR), who is waiting for  the Wormwood scrubs detainees, looks out of the window, jumps up and announces  excitedly : Oh God, Oh God, they are here!!


She informs the sureties that the detainees have arrived for the purposes of the bail hearing.


LR to sureties, following her return from attending upon her client: I have just seen him, he was served with papers, good; he has 14days to appeal. It’s a barrier. They won’t remove him when he appeals. It would have been better to appeal before coming here. The earlier the better.


Surety: What of the sentence?


LR: Sometimes it doesn’t matter, he just received the decision yesterday. It’s even dated yesterday. It’s totally up to the Judge in principle to agree to release him- 10days then to come back. There is no point in withdrawing the bail. It’s the court’s decision whether or not to grant bail. I will tell the Judge it’s an in-country appeal. We will lodge tomorrow. The home office currently agree the address is suitable. Please witch off your phone.


LR to one of the sureties: Do you have your passport?


Surety: Yes, I have it. That’s all I have.


LR: What of bank statements?


Surety: I don’t normally get bank statements………


LR looks aghast at the surety, realises there is an audience, takes a deep breath and says curtly: Never mind.


One of the surety’s walks nervously over to the LP, sits beside her and starts whispering.


 Calm down! bellows the LP, waiving a  hand dismissively at the surety.


LR: Although I didn’t request a tag for him, if  the Judge says he will tag him what will you say?


Surety: He goes back to detention?


LR: Fine, if that’s your decision but the tag will not be visible.


The boisterous Usher strolls back into the waiting room and starts speaking to no one in particular: Right! Go for lunch. Go to Tesco’s or something and come back at 1.45pm.


He walks off.


LR, looking around dramatically and starts  shifting impatiently: Oh no! My whole day is gone. It’s ruined.  I have deadlines!


One of the younger sureties walks over to the legal representatives and starts speaking in  a lowered voice.


LR responds loudly: I am not going to oppose the tag. Why am I here?


LR, speaking to one of the sureties: Can you get me water?


LR continues the conversation with the other surety: If I charge you guy’s money, you say I charge you too much!


The surety politely withdraws, thanks the legal  representative  and walks off to the first waiting room where the other sureties have safely retreated to.


(3)The over-committed legal representative


An Appellant to an Usher: I am waiting for my barrister, I don’t think he has arrived yet.


Usher: He has arrived yes, he is in another court room on another case, and he should be out at 11.20.


Appellant: Oh? Thank you.


12noon, the Barrister comes over to the Appellant and takes a seat beside her.


Barrister, making an attempt at small conversation: Did you have problems getting here? No?


Barrister starts flipping furiously through the pages of the large bundle and asks: How old is your son? Has he been here 10years? Sorry, I am being a little bit thick. Just want to ask you, are you doing CILEX?


Answer: Yes, I am doing CILEX, I have exams coming up.


An Usher approaches them and interrupts: They are finishing submissions, so you can make your way to the hearing room now.


Barrister to the Usher: Just a few minutes since they are in the middle of submissions.


The Usher smiles and leaves.


Barrister to Appellant: How long have you been with Kings College? Is there any disruption to your course?


Usher comes back: You can come in now.


The barrister and Appellant hurry to the hearing room, where the Judge is waiting.


(4)Free for all advice- no confidentiality observed


Legal representative coming out of the hearing room with an Appellant gives advice whilst standing in the middle of the waiting room:  So I don’t think you get permanent residence, you get the 5year card. What the Judge said is that it doesn’t really matter whether you get permanent residence. Point is on this card. Tomorrow you stop qualifying for it, it doesn’t really mean anything. Yummmmm, so the terms, yummmmm err, the Judge seemed quite focused on relevant issues. I am hopeful you will get the right decision. It doesn’t make a bit of difference what your intentions are. By operation of law, after 5years here, whether you like it or not, you become a permanent resident. In terms of appeal rights, its 14days to lodge an appeal in writing. Goes to Judge sitting down- judge sits alone to decide permission. You can’t just say you want to have a go. You have to identify an error of law. I will give your lawyer feedback and hopefully you get a decision in a few weeks. Alright?  Ok? Right.



(5)Different approaches at the end of a hearing 


First Barrister, coming out of a hearing room with an Appellant, patting him on the back encouragingly and smiling: I thought you did very well. Thank you very much. Goodbye for now.


The second barrister, as she opens the door of the hearing room: The Judge said she would be on leave, you will probably hear from her after a few weeks. Thank you very much for coming over. Goodbye.


A legal representative, walking briskly away, with an appellant chasing after him, asking: Where are you going?


Legal representative responds, hardly slowing down, pointing in front of him with his phone: Over there, to a consultation room.




Hopefully some of the questions above have  now  been addressed.


*  Disclaimer: The above is a work of fiction. All characters and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental!

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