What We Do
Asylum Justice is the only charitable organisation in Wales, and one of only two operating in the United Kingdom, offering free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers, recognised refugees and other vulnerable migrants. No other organisation provides this service in Wales and consequently Asylum Justice is the last and only place that people can turn to for help when they fear for their lives or the safety of their family in their country of origin. In addition, Asylum Justice provides free legal representation to other migrants pushed to the margins of society, such as women previously trafficked to the UK or who are victims of domestic violence. We represent this group in applications to obtain legal status in the UK, an area of law no longer covered by legal aid.
The right to family reunion for recognised refugees is also excluded from legal aid. Asylum Justice is the only organisation in Wales that provides refugees with an opportunity to exercise this fundamental right. Roughly a third of our work involves representing refugees in their applications to reunite with their partner and children in Wales. Without this vital service, families would remain stranded indefinitely in war zones and refugee camps scattered across the world.
The value of our unique service cannot be overstated. 56% of legal aid providers have been lost since 2005 and in the same period the proportion of not-for-profit organisations has fallen by 64%. As a consequence, an increasing number of people are unable to access legal representation, yet the quality of initial decision making has failed to improve during the same period. In the first half of 2018, for instance, 38% of all asylum seekers who appealed against an initial decision by the Home Office to refuse them protection were successful. This confirms that the appeals process remains a vital safeguard against individuals being returned to countries where they are at serious risk. However, this safeguard can only work effectively if asylum seekers are provided with proper legal advice and representation but frequently this does not happen.
Consequently, most of the people Asylum Justice represents at appeal have been refused legal aid for their case, often dropped by their solicitors only weeks before their appeal hearing is due to take place. A shortage of legal aid solicitors in Wales, a shrinking sector, and the misapplication of stringent tests imposed by the Legal Aid Agency have led to an increasing number of clients denied access to justice. Under current rules, a solicitor must refuse a client legal aid if they believe the case has a poor chance of success. But overworked and underfunded legal representatives frequently make the wrong decision in these cases, leaving vulnerable asylum seekers unrepresented and facing imminent destitution if their appeal fails.
In this respect, Asylum Justice takes on the very hardest cases, but still wins 71% of the cases we represent on appeal. This is an extremely high success rate, not only for this client group, but in the sector in general (with 50% being the average success rate of an immigration appeal as of 2018). Asylum Justice also currently possess a near perfect record of success in regard to family reunion applications at 99% and also leave to remain applications currently standing at 100%. This demonstrates the professionalism and quality of the legal services provided by Asylum Justice.