What this page will tell you
This page just covers what to expect on the day of your hearing, rather than the preparation in the run-up to the hearing.
The day before your hearing
On the afternoon or evening before your hearing, the lists of cases to be heard the next day will be put up by the Tribunal. You can find your listing by going to this address https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-and-asylum-daily-court-lists and scrolling down through the lists to find the name of the Tribunal where your case will be heard. The London Tribunals are called ‘Taylor House’ and ‘Hatton Cross’. You can find the name of the Tribunal your case will be heard at on the letter informing you of the date and time of your hearing.
The Tribunal list from the day before the hearing is helpful as it shows:
– The Court you will be in;
– Whether you are on the ‘float list’; and
– Where you are in the list.
You will notice that all of the cases are listed at 10am. This means that any case can be heard at any time and the other cases must wait until the court becomes free in order to have their case heard.
Usually, if you are first on the list, you will be heard first, which will usually be at 10am or shortly afterwards. However, the judges can and often do change the order of the list, if you have a reason that you need to leave the Tribunal early, you must tell your Westkin representative as soon as you arrive at the Tribunal.
The float list is a list of cases that don’t yet have a court, people will have to wait in the reception area until they are contacted by a court clerk to notify them that a court has become free. The downside of this is there is lot of uncertainty about when you will be heard and by whom. The purpose of this list is to try to prevent courts having many cases adjourned and then not being fully utilised during the day.
The day of your hearing
Depending on the complexity of your case, you should arrive between 9 and 9.30am – your caseworker will tell you exactly what time to be at the court. The court will open at 8.30, but if you arrive before then you will not be allowed into the court until 8.30.
On arrival you will need to pass through security; any perfume bottle with spray nozzles, cameras or dangerous items will be seized. These will usually be returned to you as you leave the building after your case is heard. The security guards will usually ask you to take a sip of any drinks that you are carrying with you through security. You will pass through a metal detector, so you should remove coins, keys and mobiles etc. whilst you pass through the detector. A guard may also need to use a handheld detector to determine the cause of any beeps.
You should then proceed straight to reception, security will tell you in which direction to go. There may be a queue at security and or reception at busy times, so you should factor this in to your arrival time.
At reception, you should show your notice of hearing, which is the letter telling you the date and time of your Tribunal hearing. If you know the court number because you looked it up the night before, or on arrival, this will speed up the process at reception. If you forget the notice of hearing, or your court number, don’t worry, just give the Appellant’s name so the reception staff can sign you in. The staff will ask you who you are: e.g. Appellant, witness, sponsor etc. and your name.
You may wait in the main waiting room up until ten minutes before the hearing. If you are represented by Westkin, your representative will come and find you at the agreed time in order to go through what will happen on the day and ask any additional questions that might have arisen. If you are late, please let Westkin know as soon as possible. Your Westkin representative will speak with the court clerk prior to the case starting to let the clerk know that you are all at court and let them know if your case is ready to go ahead. At around ten minutes to ten, your Westkin Representative will take you to the relevant court room, they will often speak with the clerk and the Home Office about your case and handover any documents relating to your case that have not been seen before. It may be possible to get the Home Office to agree that there are some avenues that they won’t pursue, so this is often a valuable time.
The hearing itself
At the start of your hearing, you will take your seats as above. There may be people waiting for their cases that would have to sit at the back of the court. Except in rare situations, the hearing room is public and anyone may witness hearings.
In most cases, you will need to give evidence in your hearing. You will have prepared a witness statement and spoken to your representative prior to the hearing. Your representative will ask you to confirm your witness statement and then ask questions about any aspect that needs development. It is unusual for many questions to be asked by your representative, if this will be necessary, you will discuss this before you get into the court room.
After you have been asked questions by the judge, you will be asked questions by the Home Office representative, this is called ‘cross-examination’.
At any point the First-Tier Tribunal Judge can interrupt and ask questions of you; how often this happens depends on lot on which Judge you have as different Judges conduct hearings in different ways. When the Home Office finishes questioning, you would normally finish giving any evidence.
If you have witnesses in your case, they will not be able to hear you giving your evidence. This is to prevent your witnesses changing their evidence based on what you have said. When you have finished giving evidence, your witnesses will come into the room one at a time to be questioned by your Representative and the Home Office. They are allowed to remain in the court room when they have given evidence.
Once everyone has given evidence the Home Office will make their submissions, they will ‘rely on the reasons for refusal letter’ and then make any additional submissions that may have arisen. Your representative will make submissions in favour of your case. The Judge may ask for submissions on certain areas.
The end of the hearing
At the end of the hearing, the Judge will usually ‘reserve their decision’ that means that they will not give a decision on the day, but will write the determination up afterwards and post it out. This process usually takes around 3 – 4 weeks, but it can take longer in some instances.
If you have any questions about what might happen on the day of your hearing, do call Westkin Associates who will advise you on your specific case.