I am sure your Bail Section received several bail applications on 20 September 2017…….and before that. In light of how events have unfolded these last few days, I might not be in error in drawing a conclusion that some bail applicants might be in a predicament- terribly distressed and frustrated having pending bail applications submitted over a week ago yet without any hearing notice in sight.
Take “AM” s case for example: AM’s bail application of early morning 20 September 2017 included a request that consideration be given to listing a bail hearing for 27 September 2017. Among the reasons given in this regards was the need to cater for the sureties availability including that of Counsel.
I am aware that The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Rules 2014 Procedure Rules, Rule 39(1), state that “where a bail application is for the bail party to be released on bail, the Tribunal must, as soon as reasonably practicable, hold a hearing of the application”. As a matter of practice, you will of course by fully conversant with the relevant Practice Direction – Immigration and Asylum Chambers of the First Tier Tribunal And The Upper Tribunal( amended on 13 November 2014 by Sir Jeremy Sullivan Senior President of Tribunals). This Practice Direction provides at Section 13.1, “Subject to First-tier Rule 39(3), an application for bail must, if practicable, be listed for hearing within three working days of receipt by the Tribunal of the notice of application”. Rule 39(3), on the facts of AM’s case is not pertinent.
Whatever situation Yarl’swood detainees might now be used to, perhaps resignedly accepting that there will be inevitable delays in obtaining a bail hearing date, AM’s expectation that her bail application be heard on 27 September 2017 was entirely reasonable. It appears however IAC Yarlswood holds a different view. This is because despite several telephone calls to yourselves and several letters including a written complaint, it was not until 27 September 2017 that it was acknowledged by IAC Yarlswood that a bail application had been received; not only that but adding to AM’ s continuing alarm, she was informed that her bail hearing would be heard on 9 October 2017, 19 days following submission of her bail application. A notice of hearing is yet to be faxed over. AM has merely been informed that she is likely to receive the notice in the following week.
There is a common theme running through the explanations given by Tribunal for the current state of affairs: “backlogs” and “queues” at IAC Yarl’swood.
Now, a bail applicant caught up in these delays might understandably have the following questions:
What exactly is the matter? Why have matters been permitted to reach a stage where a detainee’s period of detention might appear increasingly less than the period they have to wait for their bail application to be heard?
What does reasonably practicable mean? At what point might a listing delay be deemed unreasonable on the part of the Tribunal?
Where there are administrative or other difficulties in enabling bail hearings to be listed within 3working days of receipt (or even a week), what is being done to alleviate the current state of affairs?
Is consideration being given to the real potential of adverse impact of such delays upon detainees applying for bail?
The Home Office appear increasingly reluctant to release detainees, even those with pending appeals or a stay of removal in place. They point towards the detainee’s right to apply for Immigration Judge’s bail. Detainees are however coming up against an apparent brick wall of delays.
There is of course no guarantee that a detainee will be released from detention by an Immigration Judge. What is important however is the exercise of the right to apply for bail and to be heard within a time period that recognises that a 19day delay might result in some detainees continuing to be detained when they could have been released much earlier.
In the meantime, as AM musters all her strength so as to endure a further week of waiting in order have her bail application heard, she is currently without a notice of hearing to confirm the date given by the Tribunal.
Delays in listing bail hearings are perhaps not the norm at IAC Yarl’swood, however the indications given during telephone calls with the Tribunal in the last few days are that where bail applications relate in particular to IAC Yarl’swood, backlogs and queues in listings are to be expected.
Where bail listing delays in Yarl’wood IRC are indeed not the order of the day, a willingness to accept that the delay has only arisen in AM’s case does not detract from the fact that a delay of well over two weeks is quite unreasonable.
Perhaps IAC Yarl’swood might be considerate enough to urgently resolve the real issues that are giving rise to the current bail listing delays. It cannot be right that detainees accept as a matter of course that a 19day delay is reasonable. Any underlying issues are clearly not a particular problem for detainees to resolve nor endure.