NI: UK government backtracks on increase to immigration tribunal fees

Sir Oliver Heald QC
Sir Oliver Heald QC

The UK government has reversed a 500 per cent increase in immigration tribunal fees.

Following a consultation, the government had increased fees for an application to the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal from £80 to £490 and for an oral hearing from £140 to £800.

A new charge of £510 for an appeal hearing was also planned.

However, the fee changes will now be reversed and those who have paid the higher rates will be reimbursed.

Speaking in a statement on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, government minister Sir Oliver Heald QC said: “In the challenging financial circumstances faced by this country, we consider it is reasonable to ask users of Tribunals to contribute to the running costs while ensuring that access to justice is protected.

“Those who use our immigration and asylum system are not excepted from the need to make a financial contribution.”

He added: “However, we have listened to the representations that we received on the current fee levels and have decided to take stock and review the immigration and asylum fees, to balance the interests of all tribunal users and the taxpayer and to look at them again alongside other tribunal fees and in the wider context of funding for the system overall.

“From today all applicants will be charged fees at previous levels and we will reimburse, in all cases where the new fees have been paid, the difference between that fee and the previous fee.

“We will bring forward secondary legislation to formalise the position as soon as possible. That legislation will come into force shortly, but in the meantime the changes will be effected through the use of the Lord Chancellor’s discretionary power to remit or reduce fees.”

Mr Heald said he still believes “that it is right that those who use our courts and tribunals should pay more, where they can realistically afford to do so, to ensure that the system is properly funded to protect access to justice and to relieve the burden on the taxpayer”.

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