The title to this particular post says it all, while the charter flight was earlier this week and went under the usual flight number to Nigeria (PVT 090) I thought, as a direct access immigration barrister it worth outlining what had happened and comparing them an individual who was removed from the UK and not the flight, who was not a client, the reasons for which will become clear below.
As usual when there is a charter flight there is a great deal of last minute calls and applications. The later that they are made the less likely that they generally succeed.
The first client had family in the UK, he had three children with 2 different women, one child and one woman are EU nationals. They came to me late in circumstances where the previous representatives had only made an application under the EU regulations and not mentioned anything to do with the other woman or non EU children (one of whom had lived in the UK in excess of 7 years).
In order to get the case ready for the application for the injunctive relief it was necessary to make a fresh application and this fresh application also needed to amount to a fresh application to revoke a deportation order given a historic conviction. The client was naturally stressed at the delay. However my view, borne out by what happened, was that the application had to be made as comprehensively as it could notwithstanding that this meant some delay.
The Secretary of State refused to consider or respond to the fresh application notwithstanding that it was supported by birth certificates, statements and photographs showing the nature and extent of the family life.
The Upper Tribunal, through an Order of Upper Tribunal Judge Canavan granted a stay the day before the flight was due to depart. This was nearly not the end of the matter as notwithstanding the clear Order the Secretary of State refused the cancel the removal directions, this was manifestly unfair. The client had been sent directly the Order he was showing it to the officers in the detention centre but they said that they could only take instructions from the Home Office and were preparing to take him to the airport. Many calls and emails ensued and thankfully sense prevailed and the removal directions were cancelled.
The second case was far trickier and far more stressful. I received a call from the excellent Ina Iteva at Duncan Lewis solicitors asking if I would take on the case in the afternoon. I agreed as my case had just finished in Taylor House and I would not want someone removed because they could not find a lawyer in time.
Upon reviewing the papers it was clear that Ms Iteva had taken the case after the previous representative had made a mess of it. She did an excellent job of putting forward a fresh application supported by evidence and asked the Secretary of State to consider it. This case engaged the protected rights of 2 British Children and two women in addition to that of the Applicant. Again there was a deportation order which amounted to a significant bar.
The matter came before Upper Tribunal Judge Coker at 1650 on the day of the departure. She had kindly agreed to hear the oral renewal application late and had clearly read the papers. After some 40 minutes of argument and testing of the evidence and submissions she granted the stay, largely on the basis that the Secretary of State had shut her eyes to the fresh material submitted by his solicitors. This was an excellent result. It was in no small part due to the work of Ms Iteva. Had she not properly prepared the case and submitted the supporting evidence he would have been removed and the children lost contact with him.
This leads me to the last case, this was not a client of mine. I was asked to prepare an injunction on behalf of a firm of solicitors. I asked for the papers to be sent over. It was immediately clear to me that there was no prospect of success in this particular case, this was because the fresh claim relied upon by the solicitors was essentially devoid of new material. It relied solely upon material previously submitted and previously rejected. There was nothing new. What compounded the error was that an application for judicial review had been submitted on the day of the removal, the grounds made reference to the need for an urgent consideration of the papers and the need for injunctive relief. However for reasons that I confess I did not properly understand no such application had been made to the Upper Tribunal. This in my view doomed the application for the following reasons. Firstly any application that is made by telephone on the day of a charter flight is likely to be one of many with the risk that the Tribunal will not properly consider each application. Secondly, the first question I am asked by any Judge on the phone is why now? Why was there not an urgent application made on the papers? This is before one gets to the question of merit. I had to advise the solicitor that there was insufficient merits in troubling the Court and that if the solicitor persisted (and it would not be with me) then they ran the risk of being hauled before the President of the QBD as per the case of R (on the application of Hamid) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3070 (Admin).
What do I take from the above. Preparation, preparation and more preparation. Oh and do not leave things to the last minute. While this may sound as if it is in jest. It is not. My advice would be for anyone facing removal or anyone who has a friend or family who facing removal is that you must act quickly. I have had good cases refused on the basis that the Applicant has sat on his hands until a day or so before the removal where there have been removal directions served 2 weeks ago.
Not only must you act quickly you must get proper advice. I cannot stress this enough. It might be that the case has no prospects of success. If this is the case then there is no point in wasting money on paying for a pre action letter, judicial review claim and injunctive relief. If advice is taken early then you will be in a better position to make an informed judgment. If you leave it to the last few days it is going to be harder to step back and ask if the claim is worth it. It might be that while this application is hopeless there is another application that can be made in the future. Likewise it might be that you qualify for money to settle back home from the government.
I say the above as it is important that you are properly aware of the prospects of success and do not get fleeced by dodgy representatives who see your fear and take money from you and your family in order to pursue a claim that has no prospects of success because you are unable to make a clear decision.
If there is any merit in the case then getting advice early means that the case can be properly advanced. This is vital. If the case has, say, children, its vital that the Secretary of State is properly made aware of any relationships and that proper evidence, representations and statements are submitted. If you have 10 days to 2 weeks or so to make any application this should be sufficient time to ensure that the case is properly prepared and that any fresh claim is made in good time. The reason for this is a. the Secretary of State may cancel the removal directions and b. if you have to go for judicial review and an injunction you will have good evidence upon which to build your case.
If you or your family are facing removal or are worried about your immigration status, please do not hesitate to contact me and we can arrange a conference, either in person, phone or Skype. Please whatever you do, do not just wait and leave it to the last minute. and please please if you do not come see me make sure you go and see a reputable lawyer.
Paul Turner is a highly regarded direct access immigration barrister and is the head of Imperium Chambers, Grays Inn Buildings, Grays Inn, he also practises from Mansfield Chambers, the Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, 5 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1LG and a door tenant at 39 Park Square Leeds LS1 2NU and is licensed by the Bar Council to provide advice and representation directly to the public.