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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

New asylum system must 'treat people fairly'

New asylum system must 'treat people fairly'


The proposed two-tier system will mean fewer asylum seekers may qualify, the Law Society warned

The proposed new immigration and asylum system will mean fewer asylum seekers may qualify, the Law Society warned.

It said the UK needs a system that is fit for purpose, “treats people fairly and provides lawful, timely and consistent decisions”, the Law Society said.

It was responding to news that government is to shake up asylum law. In her ‘new plan for immigration’ home secretary Priti Patel announced an ending to free movement and introducing a points-based, two-tier system which treat less favourably individuals who reach the UK through illegal means.

She said the “new, comprehensive, fair but firm, long-term plan” will be based on fairness but with tough rules of enforcement and “quicker removal decisions for failed asylum seeker”.

However, critics say the proposals lack compassion. Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “Proposals to hike the standard of proof for asylum claims could mean far fewer would qualify under the new regime, significantly reducing the protection the UK offers those fleeing persecution.”

She said the Society wants to look at how the proposed two-tier system would reflect the UK's obligations under international law.

Boyce conceded that expanding safe, legal routes for people fleeing persecution “would be good news”, but added: “These must be established and shown to work, particularly as many legal routes ceased at the end of the Brexit transition period and have not been replaced. We would also be very glad to see increased legal support for people claiming asylum as well as more access to early advice.” 

She also warned of the impact of the case backlog in the asylum system, with figures showing 67 per cent of claimants waiting more than six months for an initial decision.

“There is urgent need for an improvement in Home Office decision-making as evidenced by the high proportion of appeals that are upheld by judges”, she said, “which stands at 44 per cent for asylum as of December 2020.”

The Law Society said it will respond to the detail of the proposals in due course, but said “justice and the rule of law must guide any changes”.