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As a direct access immigration barrister based in the dynamic and growing Imperium Chambers I have noticed a strange and quite frankly sad state of affairs in relation to applicants and new applications / judicial reviews.

This relates to cost.

It’s a strange article to write and for a while I have held off but the experiences of the last few days has lead me to writing it.

I have a variety of clients, from those who are seeking to make applications to those who have refusals and need help in the preparation of a judicial review application. In the latest of this strange breed of case it related to a potential judicial review application.

The client was a Points Based Migrant who had a business with a turnover in excess of £1,000,000 and who had created 10 new jobs and was seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain for him and his family on the basis of the accelerated route. The client had been to a firm of solicitors who had made a mistake, the HO had also made a mistake so we were faced with a refusal that was the fault of lawyers and the HO.

I had carefully gone through the papers and the refusal and realised that the case was arguably winnable if prepared properly but that equally the case could have been lost had it not been done properly. Everything turned on the preparation of the pre action letter and the judicial review claim.

I was asked the inevitable question, how much and my heart sank. The questions asked were intelligent but the problems with the application were going to require a considerable amount of explanation. The sinking of the heart was that when I mentioned a reasonable fee I could see the clients’ recoil. The figure quoted was a fraction of the turnover and small fraction. I asked what they had paid for the application to be told that it was even smaller. I asked the clients what did they expect. They were seeking ILR for a family and had a turnover of in excess of £1,000,000 yet wanted to pay less than 0.1% of the turnover on legal fees and could not understand why the application had failed.

What is strange is that I have quoted the same figure to individuals who do not have the same level of income at all, indeed their income is about 1% of the turnover yet they realise that there is a need to pay for good quality work.

What is stranger is that this is not the first time that this has happened. Indeed when I read the papers and realised that it was a PBS case I realised that as soon as money was mentioned the clients would not wish to proceed.

What is most amazing in a negative way is that the consequences to the potential applicant is that they now face removal in circumstances where they will be unlikely to ever return to the UK. Notwithstanding explaining this in the most simple and clear way I could see that this was not getting through. Were it not for the fact that this is not the first time I would have been shocked. I have thought long and hard as to why this occurs yet cannot fathom out why those who can clearly afford to pay for top class legal work don’t.