Asylum Justice

Asylum Justice

At a glance

Causes

  • Refugees / migrants

Other details

Organisation type: 
Charity
Geographical remit: 
National - Britain

Objectives

Asylum Justice is the only charitable organisation in Wales, and one of only two operating in the UK, offering free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers, recognised refugees and other vulnerable migrants. No other organisation provides this service in Wales and consequently Asylum Justice is the last and only place that people can turn to for help when they fear for their lives or the safety of their family in their country of origin.

Activities

The value of our unique service cannot be overstated. Wales was described as a ‘legal aid desert’ in May 2022, and since then the sector has further collapsed. Numerous asylum and immigration solicitors in Newport, Swansea and Cardiff have ceased legal aid provision, and the remaining are working at full capacity. As a consequence, an increasing number of people are unable to access legal representation, including even for their initial asylum claim. Many asylum seekers cannot afford private solicitor fees and Asylum Justice, as the only OISC Level 3 organisation providing these services for free in Wales, is the last place they can turn.  

At the same time, the quality of initial decision making has failed to improve. In the year ending September 2022, for instance, 52% of all asylum seekers who appealed against an initial decision by the Home Office to refuse them protection were successful. This confirms that the appeals process remains a vital safeguard against individuals being returned to countries where they are at serious risk. However, this safeguard can only work effectively if asylum seekers are provided with proper legal advice and representation – but frequently this does not happen. 

Consequently, most of the people Asylum Justice represents at appeal have been refused legal aid for their case, often dropped by their solicitors only weeks before their appeal hearing is due to take place. A critical shortage of legal aid solicitors in Wales, a shrinking sector, and the misapplication of stringent tests imposed by the Legal Aid Agency have led to an increasing number of clients denied access to justice. Under current rules, a solicitor must refuse a client legal aid if they believe the case has a poor chance of success. But overworked and underfunded legal representatives frequently make the wrong decision in these cases, leaving vulnerable asylum seekers unrepresented and facing imminent destitution if their appeal fails. 

In this respect, Asylum Justice takes on the very hardest cases, but still wins 56% of the cases we represent on appeal. Last year, Asylum Justice also were successful in 100% of family reunion applications and 93% of leave to remain applications. This demonstrates the professionalism and quality of the legal services provided by Asylum Justice. 

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