If you are attending an immigration tribunal to have your case heard by an Immigration Judge, then you will be pleased to know that there is finally some guidance issued on how Presenting Officers should conduct themselves.
A Presenting Officer attends on behalf of the Home Office to represent their case, which in most cases is to defend the refusal letter that you received. They will be arguing the points raised in the Refusal letter and adding additional facts from the hearing along with any evidence.
The Guidance was published on the 25 May 2021 titled ‘Code of Conduct for Presenting Staff’.
What does the guidance say?
- How to behave in and out of work!
- How to Co-operate!
- You should follow your own laws and policies!
Now. It would seem obvious that these Rules should be observed and followed in any event. So, it does throw out the question why did the Home Office need to mention it? Have the Presenting Officers been behaving badly, refusing to co-operate, and just not following their own Policies!
The Guidance states that presenting Officers “Must act with honesty, integrity, objectivity and impartiality”. They should Co-operate with the Tribunal especially in arrangements for children and vulnerable adults. And finally, a Presenting Officer,
“You must follow all relevant Home Office policy. You must follow the policy on Withdrawing decisions in your preparation for the appeal hearing. You should note that for any appeal to continue it must be both sustainable and appropriate to proceed.”
For those of us who have been in and out of the Immigration Tribunals, myself included in the last 20 years I can say that some of the points above have not been followed. I am sure many of you have your own ‘horror’ stories. I have had Presenting Officers tell me why I bothered to come to court before the hearing started and that my client was just a liar! Presenting officers grunting or making strange noises during submissions and making comments throughout. Presenting Officers trying to offer deals before the hearing which was not a deal in the slightest but a tactics to get clients to withdraw their case. During a hearing I had a Presenting Officer shout at me to help them with what their own requirements were and many many more stories over the years.
The Guidance then goes onto say that the Presenting Officer has a ‘duty of candour to the tribunal’. I now feel that we are in the Divergent series and as an Erudite you must drink the truth serum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
May the truth set you free.
The Guidance is an interesting read and goes on to mention equality, discrimination and how a case should be prepared and presented at Court. Some of the points raised in the guidance:
“You must not discriminate against any person or group and remain respectful and considerate to all witnesses and parties to the appeal hearing.”
“You must not behave in a way which is likely to diminish public confidence in the administration of justice.”
“You must not knowingly or recklessly mislead or attempt to mislead the court. In cross examination and submissions, you should usually focus on matters relevant to the issues raised in the refusal letter, or on evidence that comes to light before or during the appeal hearing.”
If you are attending an Immigration Tribunal and you are faced with a Presenting Officer that is acting up, then please use the guidance and make a complaint. You can even raise matters in front of the Immigration Judge. As with all situations there are always those Presenting Officers who do follow the correct procedures and do their job. We must not let the dark side of a few affect the force.