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|AM (Afghanistan) v SSHD (2017) EWCA Civ 1123||Immigration tribunal - fair hearing, litigation friends||In this judgment the Court of Appeal gave guidance on the general approach to be adopted in FTT and UT immigration and asylum cases to the fair determination of claims for asylum from children, young people and other incapacitated or vulnerable persons whose ability to effectively participate in proceedings may be limited. In relation to litigation friends, despite there being no provision in the tribunal rules for litigation friends, the court decided that: "[T]here is ample flexibility in the tribunal rules to permit a tribunal to appoint a litigation friend in the rare circumstance that the child or incapacitated adult would not be able to represent him/herself and obtain effective access to justice without such a step being taken. In the alternative, even if the tribunal rules are not broad enough to confer that power, the overriding objective in the context of natural justice requires the same conclusion to be reached."|
|Lord Chancellor v Blavo and Co Solictors Ltd (2018) EWHC 3556 (QB)||John Blavo personally ordered to repay Legal Aid claims||The High Court gave judgment for the Lord Chancellor against John Blavo in the sum of £22,136,001.71 following the allegation that Blavo & Co made dishonest claims for payment on the legal aid fund for thousands of cases where it was not entitled to any fee.|
|Lord Chancellor v John Blavo (2016) EWHC 126 (QB), (2016) MHLO 6||Freezing order continued||There was a strongly arguable case that John Blavo was party to an arrangement whereby false claims were submitted to the LAA in many thousands of cases, there was evidence of a less than scrupulous approach to his duty of disclosure to the Court, and evidence of a recent attempt improperly to put property beyond the reach of the Lord Chancellor. Taking these matters together there was a real risk that any judgment would go unsatisfied because of disposal of assets. Given the sums of money involved and the admitted financial difficulties it was just and convenient in all the circumstances to continue the freezing order. (The precursor to the official investigation was an audit during which 49 files were passed to the LAA's counter-fraud team, whose conclusions included: "In respect of 42 of these 49 files HMCTS have confirmed that they have no record of there having been tribunal proceedings either in respect of the individual client or on the date when the file indicates...Following this, the LAA made inquiries of the NHS on a selection of files among the 42 that had no tribunal hearing and the NHS confirmed that they have no records relating to 16 of the clients... After completing this analysis the Applicant undertook a further comparison of all mental health tribunal claims against the HMCTS system. As a result of this analysis, it was found that the Company had submitted a total of 24,658 claims for attendance at tribunals of which 1485 (6%) tribunals were recorded by HMCTS as having taken place... After visiting the Company's Head Office and requesting documentation from the Company and the Respondent, the LAA team used an electronic sampling tool to randomly select 144 cases for further investigation, across the last three complete financial years. Only 3% could be evidenced from HMCTS records...")|
|R (JS) v SSHD (2019) UKUT 64 (IAC)||Litigation friends for children in immigration tribunal proceedings||The Upper Tribunal provided mainly age-based guidance on whether a child applicant in immigration proceedings requires a litigation friend, and on the role of the litigation friend.|
|Re CM (Judicial Review) (2013) CSOH 143||Scottish smoking ban||"The petitioner asks the court to declare that the respondents' 'policy of a complete smoking ban and prohibition of possession of tobacco products by patients at the State Hospital' is unlawful; and also to declare that the respondents' policy has breached the petitioner's human rights, specifically article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for private life and home) as a stand-alone claim and in combination with article 14 ECHR (enjoyment of Convention rights without discrimination) and the first protocol, article 1 ECHR (right not to be deprived of property) as a stand-alone claim and in combination with article 14 ECHR (enjoyment of Convention rights without discrimination). ... I have come to the view, though with reluctance, that the decision to compel the petitioner to stop smoking was flawed in every possible way. In that it relied on compulsion, the decision was contrary to the national policy which it purported to implement. The decision should have been made with reference to the section 1 principles of the 2003 Act but was not, and was in contravention of the obligations imposed by section 1 on the respondents. The respondents did not, for example, take account of the petitioner's wishes, or provide him with the requisite information; and on no reasonable view could they have reached the conclusion that the smoking ban, to the extent that it was necessary, was implemented in 'the manner that involves the minimum restriction on the freedom of' the petitioner. Whether or not consultation is a legal requirement, if it is embarked on it must be carried out properly. I am satisfied that the compulsory 'comprehensive smoke-free' regime was a foregone conclusion and that the consultation exercise was not a meaningful one... If article 8 ECHR is engaged, and I hold that it is, it is for the respondents to justify interfering with the petitioner's right to make his own decision about smoking. They have failed to do so satisfactorily. Indeed, I am satisfied that the decision to stop the petitioner smoking in the hospital grounds constituted interference with the petitioner's article 8 ECHR rights without lawful warrant - because it was not made in accordance with section 1 principles - and because it went further than was necessary to achieve the legitimate aim in question, namely to protect third parties from the petitioner's cigarette smoke. The respondents have also failed to demonstrate an 'objective and reasonable justification' for treating the petitioner differently from adult, long-term prisoners, who can smoke if they wish. Going further, on the material presented to me and in the absence of any other suggestion, it appears that the only justification for imposing a smoking ban on mental health detainees like the petitioner and not on penal detainees is that it is feasible to compel mental health detainees to stop smoking because of their vulnerability. This is not a legitimate justification. Accordingly I hold that there has been a violation of the petitioner's right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of his article 8 ECHR rights contrary to article 14 ECHR."|