Despite the world for many years now having fully embraced digital platforms for personal and business matters, filing non-urgent Judicial Review claims with the Upper Tribunal has remained a traditional hard paper exercise- by post or in person. Even in urgent matters where e-filing was permitted, the Tribunal set a 50 page limit on the documents being provided.
In a welcome change, the Upper Tribunal has issued new guidance enabling all Judicial Review claims to be filed electronically. This guidance provides for changes to standard Judicial review claims, as well as Judicial Review claims with urgent consideration requests.
What has changed?
- Judicial Review applications (Form T480) to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) that DO NOT require urgent or immediate consideration:
The most significant shift in procedure is that, as of 29 April 2020, the UT will now permit an application for Judicial Review to be filed by email at UTIACJudicialReviewApplications@justice.gov.uk. The file must not exceed 25MB in total per email.
In terms of fees, if the application is being filed by email, and if you are a professional user with a PBA account (a way for solicitors, local authorities and other regular users to make payments relating to civil and family cases), the fee will be taken as usual. However, in other circumstances a member of HMCTS staff will contact you and ask you to make the payment online using a unique reference number. Only once the fee has been paid will the application be issued and progressed.
A potential issue with this approach is where Judicial Review claims are being made towards the end of the 3 month deadline. What approach will be taken if an application is received on the last day of the deadline and a member of HMCTS only contacts the applicant the next day? In this scenario the application would be issued late and potentially time-barred. As always, it is best not to leave the filing of a claim to the very last minute.
- Judicial Review applications to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) that require urgent or immediate consideration
From 23 March 2020 and until further notice all applications for Judicial Review that require urgent or immediate consideration must be filed as follows:
- As long as the applicant is not in an immigration detention or removal centre, they must be filed by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Email attachments must not exceed 15MB in total. If they exceed this they will not be delivered.
- If the applicant is in an immigration detention or removal centre, they may file by fax.
- Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, London and Manchester Tribunals will not accept hard copy applications.
The cut-off time is 4pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays). Applications received after 4pm on a working day will not be processed, and the Out of Hours service will need to be contacted on 0207 947 6260.
In terms of fees, the Tribunal is treating applications made via email and fax as carrying an implicit promise to pay any fee payable. The Tribunal will contact the applicant in order to take the payment. It is therefore vital that up to date telephone and email address details are provided in the claim form.
This is a welcome change to the procedure for filing Judicial Review claims, and starts to bring the procedure of the Tribunal in line with the realities of modern day practices in virtually all other areas, and to take advantage of the digital platforms we all use. It remains to be seen whether the Tribunal will retain this procedure once the lockdown is relaxed. One hopes that it will, and that it will build upon it so that access to justice continues to become easier for all.