Immigration law is complex. It involves knowledge of multiple jurisdictions and the political and cultural circumstances of those countries, the statutes, regulations and case law providing interpretations of those statutes and regulations, and it requires confidence and knowledge in advocacy as to what the tribunal you are appearing before is looking for.
I wouldn’t do a contested immigration final hearing. I’d be very out of my depth. Just having skill as a lawyer, and experience of being in Court isn’t enough.
The post-script to this family law case, involving an allegation that a child of just seven weeks old was admitted to hospital with serious burns and a mother who alleged that the injury was caused by a friend of hers, Y, who had spilled tea on the child, but Y could not be located to give evidence (it appears that Y may have been an overstayer, so there’s some immigration angle) , really says all that needs to be said.
K & C (Children: Finding of Fact), Re  EWFC B85
Families are the building blocks of our society and in Public Law Proceedings, the Courts deal with some of the most vulnerable families. Professionals who work in the Family Justice System are highly skilled specialists who often work on complex cases involving serious intricate forensic issues. Their skill set and professional standards are essential for those who represent the parties in Public Law Proceedings. It is incumbent on those representing the parties facing serious allegations to ensure they have seen, read and understood all the evidence in the case and to ensure that the party who they represent has been able to participate meaningfully in the court process.
I note that in this case, neither the parents nor their Counsel were aware that there were coloured photographs of the injuries that were commented upon in detail in the written report of the jointly instructed expert. Until she was partway through giving oral evidence, the Mother had never seen the transcript of her police interview. Despite being in possession of Y’s photograph, the mother’s solicitors failed to mention this to the local authority or their own private investigator, resulting in much embarrassment when the wrong person was witness summonsed and attended Court. Counsel for the parents have both informed me that they are immigration specialists, consequently the other professionals have had to work very hard to make sure that the hearing could be fair and effective. The mother’s evidence has taken much longer than necessary, which can only have made it more stressful than it needed to be. There is no room in the Family Court for such a lack of care and lackadaisical approach to case preparation.
The type of bath ritual described by mother is common practice amongst West African families. I can only assume that either mother or the older supporter Y accidently placed a flannel or some other bathing implement in the boiling hot water as opposed to the mixed baby temperature water. It seems to me that the judge perhaps lacked some cross-cultural understanding if he really did not understand why the children were being bathed in this manner.
Finally giving information which could result in Y being deported and depriving which ever family members at home in Africa of the income she remits to them would not have been a decision mother would have taken lightly. Again I think the judge showed little insight into the circumstances of many overstayers and their families.