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Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

I am pleased to announce the Government’s intention to commence section 53 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 with effect from 1 October 2011. Section 53 enables judicial review applications in “fresh claim” asylum and immigration human rights cases to be heard in the Upper Tribunal.

Currently, judicial review applications cannot be transferred from the High Court or Court of Session to the Upper Tribunal if they call into question decisions made under the Immigration Acts. The commencement of section 53 will allow the transfer of judicial review applications relating to a refusal of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to treat representations as a “fresh claim” in asylum and immigration human rights cases.

One of the conditions to enable the High Court in England and Wales to transfer a case to the Upper Tribunal is that the application falls within a class specified by the Lord Chief Justice under section 18 (6) of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. I understand that, following the commencement of section 53, the Lord Chief Justice is minded to make such a direction in respect of this class of judicial review application.

I also understand that while there are no immediate plans to transfer these cases to the Upper Tribunal in respect of Scotland or Northern Ireland, commencement of section 53 would allow that to happen at some point in the future should the Lord President and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland deem this to be appropriate. I understand that the Lord President has indicated that further consultation will be required in Scotland in relation to this matter.

The transfer of these judicial reviews will enable fresh claim asylum and immigration human rights applications to be dealt with by judicial members of the Upper Tribunal who have specialist skills and experience in asylum and immigration cases and will also relieve workload pressure on the High Court, freeing up judicial time to address the high volumes of other types of cases heard in the High Court.

I understand that the Tribunals Procedure Committee is currently considering whether any amendments will be required to the Upper Tribunal Procedure Rules to reflect this change and that it may decide to undertake public consultation on this matter in due course.