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Court declines to take any action despite serious failings by solicitor and junior counsel in asylum case

By: James Cross BL

High Court, in the context of judicial review proceedings in asylum, immigration and citizenship law, finds that there were serious failings by the applicant’s solicitor and junior counsel that have led to the immigration and asylum system being undermined and the High Court’s scarce resources being taken up with a wholly unsubstantiated case that was entirely without merit; but in the circumstances of the case, the court declines to take any action against them.

Judicial review – asylum and immigration – practice and procedure – hearing into professional standards - court’s inherent jurisdiction to protect its own process from abuse – failures on the part of the applicant’s legal representatives to conduct the proceedings in accordance with proper standards of professional behaviour and the duty each owes to the court - directed the applicant’s solicitor and junior counsel to show cause why each should not be found to have conducted these proceedings in breach of those standards and that duty – wasted costs order – jurisdiction - fundamental constitutional and common law value is at stake - inherent power of a court to prevent the abuse of its process by any person, including a solicitor or barrister, is quite separate from the inherent jurisdiction of the court to supervise the conduct of a solicitor as an officer of the court - power to refer the conduct of their clients to the disciplinary body to which each is accountable – court finds that there is inherent jurisdiction to admonish counsel – argued that the Court’s approach has adopted is procedurally flawed because the Court has not referred their conduct for consideration by another judge of the High Court – no breach of the audi alteram partem principle – whether the court should exercise its inherent jurisdiction in this case - responses of the applicant’s solicitor to the court’s concerns - information on the level of fees demanded - undertaking not to seek costs - junior counsel’s written responses to concerns raised - administration of justice in public – Court satisfied that there were serious failings that have led to the immigration and asylum system being undermined and the High Court’s scarce resources being taken up with a wholly unsubstantiated case that was entirely without merit - solicitor has not offered an apology for her conduct – offered best endeavours to implement recommendations in her new practice – junior counsel has made a number of apologies - plea in mitigation – inexperience - you cannot give an inexperienced advocate a licence to be incompetent - required to have appropriate regard to the principle of equality before the law - deficiencies in the making of ex parte applications are unfortunately sufficiently frequent as to make it inappropriate to criticise any one lawyer.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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