Immigration practitioners have an essential role in upholding and supporting the efficiency of the UK’s immigration and justice system. Through discharging their professional ethical obligations, they help protect these systems from abuse and exploitation. The vast majority of immigration practitioners work tirelessly – and often at significant personal cost – to honestly and fearlessly pursue their clients’ best interests, without misleading the Home Office, the court, or otherwise breaching their regulatory obligations.
We are, therefore, deeply concerned by current press coverage alleging that instead of upholding the profession’s high standards, a small number of individuals have advised their clients to mislead the Home Office. We share the views, quoted below, of the Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk in his letter to the Chair of the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA):
‘Solicitors are critical to the operation of a fair immigration system. I know that the overwhelming majority take their professional duties and obligations extremely seriously.
‘However, any examples of practices which fall short of the high ethical standards we expect of solicitors risk serious disruption to the immigration system, tarnishing the reputation of those working in this area, and critically undermining public confidence.’
None of the individuals or organisations named in the coverage are current ILPA members. ILPA’s Guidelines for Members state the following:
‘Members of ILPA are expected to maintain the highest traditions of professional service in the conduct of activities as advisors and representatives in the field of immigration, nationality and asylum law and practice-related matters. In particular:
a) They must give sound advice having familiarised themselves with the law, the Rules and the principal published materials that relate to the issue in question;
b) They must not deceive the immigration authorities or the Courts or knowingly allow themselves to be used in any deception;
c) They must maintain adequate records of their professional dealings, including records of the matters set out below;
d) They must not charge a fee that is unreasonable in all the circumstance.’
ILPA is committed to promoting and improving advice and representation in immigration, asylum and nationality law. As such we offer a comprehensive training programme to help all practitioners in this area, irrespective of whether they are members of ILPA, to improve the quality of their legal advice and remain up to date with changes in immigration law.
Where individuals choose to knowingly mislead the authorities, it is only right they face regulatory action. Trust and confidence must be maintained both in the immigration system and in those who represent some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
We also take this opportunity to acknowledge the significant and important work that our members undertake in challenging, and frequently hostile, circumstances.