Asylum Support Tribunal guidance
First–tier Tribunal (Asylum Support)
Formerly known as the Asylum support Adjudicator, the First–tier Tribunal Asylum Support (AS) was set up to consider appeals from decisions made by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
This section provides information about the service provided by us and the legislative framework by which we operate. You will be able to access information about who we are and what we do, as well as all of our tribunal decisions.
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 established new support arrangements for asylum seekers and their dependants. They replaced previous entitlements which asylum seekers had for social security and other benefits.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA), consider whether an applicant and their dependants meet the test of destitution as set out in the legislation, and then determine to what extent support should be provided. This support may include the provision of accommodation and cash for essential needs.
If the UKBA refuse to provide support or, after they have been providing support, decide to stop or withdraw it, an asylum seeker can appeal to us against their decision.
We provide an independent appeal mechanism for Asylum Seekers whose applications for support have been refused or discontinued.
Appeals will be heard in a fair and just manner.
Our staff, and all support staff, are committed to providing an efficient, professional and accessible service.
What we do
We are an independent organisation that considers appeals against decisions made by UKBA. We do not deal with asylum claims, or any other immigration matters. We can only consider appeals against a refusal or termination of support made by UKBA.
When determining an appeal the Tribunal Judge can make one of three decisions:
- Ask the Secretary of State to reconsider the matter;
- Substitute the decision being appealed against with their decision; or
- Dismiss the appeal.
The Tribunal Judges must give their reasons in writing and the decision of the Tribunal Judge is final.
The appointment of the First–tier tribunal (Asylum support) (AS) was made by the Secretary of State under Section 102 and Schedule 10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 on 3 April 2000. AS is administered by the Tribunals Service (TS), an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
- A full time Tribunal Principal Judge
- A full time Tribunal Deputy Principal Judge
- 2 full time Tribunal Judges and
- 21 sessional Tribunal Judges.
The Tribunal judges will hear and determine appeals within set time limits. They are responsible for delivering a fair, fast and effective appeal mechanism for asylum seekers denied support under the Asylum Support Scheme, or those from whom such support has been withdrawn.
The Principal Judge has overall responsibility to the Secretary of State for the implementation and delivery of an efficient and effective appeal scheme for the asylum support system. This includes oversight of the appeal scheme, including the arrangements for listing cases, organising the hearings and for disseminating the adjudicators' determinations and setting the overall standard of the work of the adjudicators.
The Principal Judge is responsible for the external relations and is overall representative of the AST in the public forum. The Principal Judge maintains involvement in case working by personally determining complex cases or those perceived as having “landmark“ implications.
Deputy Principal Judge
The Deputy Principal Judge has responsibility through the Principal Judge for the implementation and delivery of an efficient and effective appeal scheme for the asylum support system. This includes responsibility for setting the delivery of strategic objectives and targets.
The Deputy Principal Judge is responsible for overseeing the day to day organisational and management needs for the adjudicators. The Deputy Principal Judge deputises for the Principal Judge in their absence and also hears appeals sitting as an adjudicator.
Asylum Support Tribunal Judges
The adjudicators are responsible for determining appeals within set time limits and for delivering a fair, efficient and effective appeal scheme for the asylum support system. They determine appeals against decisions that individual asylum seekers do not qualify for support.
AST support staff are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the tribunal process. At hearings, they have the important role of being the first point of contact for appellants.
The Senior manager for the Asylum Support Tribunal has overall responsibility for the effective and efficient operational and strategic management of the AST.
He/ she is also responsible for the management of the AST support staff team ensuring that the performance standards and customer service targets, as set out in the AST Business Plan, are met.. The Senior manager is responsible for securing and managing the appropriate level of resources to meet the business needs of the organisation. They also investigate and manage all complaints made to the AST, ensuring that they are handled in accordance with the Tribunals Service Complaints Procedure.
Clerk to the Judges
The clerks to the adjudicators are mainly responsible for the administrative preparation of appeal cases. Their duties include maintaining the appeals database used to monitor the timely and accurate progress of all appeals and decisions, as well as ensuring that an interpreter is arranged, when requested, for all hearings.
Our Ushers facilitate the smooth running of oral hearings and act as an information point for appellants and representatives. At the end of the hearing an usher will hand over the adjudicator's written decision to the appellant, representative and presenting officer, clear the hearing room and prepare it for the next appeal hearing.
AS Tribunal Judges are appointed by the Home Secretary and they provide an independent appeals service.
No, they are an independent review body and are not a part of UKBA.
What will happen to Asylum Support?
Asylum Support (AS) will move into the First-tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber on 3 November 2008 and the new rules will come into effect on the same day.
The new rules will apply to appeals received by the Tribunal after 3 November 2008. They will also apply, as far as possible, to appeals started before that date and still in progress, provided that applying the rules will not disadvantage either party.
The Asylum Support Tribunal will then become known as 'First-tier Tribunal (Asylum Support)'.
What will these changes mean for Asylum Support users?
- Essentially the service for users will remain the same. AS will continue to exist as a jurisdiction even though it will form part of a Chamber with the Criminal Injuries Compensation and Social Security and Child Support jurisdictions;
- The Tribunal Judiciary of the existing tribunal will transfer to the new tribunal structure and will continue to sit on AS appeals and work in the same way as at present;
- Hearings will continue to be heard in their existing format and will take place at Anchorage House in East India Dock, London.
So what changes will the new rules make?
Additional powers to be given to the AS Tribunal Judges include:
- Power to determine a case on the papers if both parties consent or do not object to this;
- Power to exclude evidence if not provided within the time directed;
- Power to issue summonses for witness attendance and/or the production of a document;
- Power to strike-out a case (for example if it falls outside of the jurisdiction of the AS; if there has been a lack of compliance from a party or if it has no reasonable prospect of success);
- Power to make an order prohibiting disclosure of information likely to cause serious harm;
- Power to correct accidental clerical slips or omissions in written decisions;
- Power to set-aside and re-make final decisions in certain circumstances.
Parties and representatives should check the final published version of the new Rules for the exact details and application of the above.
Who do we speak to about specific cases after October 2008?
The Asylum Support may be contacted on Freephone number: 0800 681 6509.
Are there other practical changes that we need to understand?
We have produced a comprehensive 'Meaning of words' document which will appear on our website shortly and should clarify most questions.