Today I had my first bail application following the granting of new bail powers to the Home Office this week.
It was going to be interesting to see how they played it.
Earlier this week, the Home Office sent a fax requesting that my client’s sureties (now known as Financial Condition Supporters!) signed a form consenting to credit checks being carried out on them in order to check their suitability.
This appeared to be some form of overreach on the part of the Home Office, considering that neither of my FCSs were applying for a loan or renting an apartment.
Neither the Immigration Act 2016 nor the new Home Office guidance on immigration bail allow or require the Home Office to do this although the guidance does state that where the Home Office (as opposed to the Tribunal) is being asked to grant bail, it should fully investigate the financial standing of any Financial Condition Supporter.
At the actual bail hearing today, the Presenting Officer never even looked at the FCSs bank statements, let alone ask for consent to carry out credit checks.
Happily, bail was granted subject to a residence and reporting condition.
Transfer of Bail to the Home Office
Unfortunately, the judge thereafter directed for the management of bail to be transferred to the Home Office, something permitted under the new legislation.
The judge appeared to treat the issue as something of a default position until I was forced to interject to clarify that it was not mandatory and that there were good reasons for management of bail to remain with the Tribunal.
Under the new provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 that came into force this week, once management of bail is transferred to the Secretary of State, she can thereafter vary bail conditions or impose additional conditions without any Tribunal oversight.
So if next week the Secretary of State decides that my client should be subjected to electronic monitoring (tagging), she can do so of her own accord even though the Tribunal when it granted bail did not think it was necessary.
Furthermore, if the Secretary of State decides that she wants the FCSs to undergo credit checks and they do not consent or the credit checks do not come back very positive, she can decide that she is not satisfied with the sureties and revoke bail and detain my client again.
This is far from satisfactory, particularly in this specific client’s case where the Home Office has issued statements in previous bail hearings which subsequently turned out not to be true or accurate and which resulted in bail being refused.
As I said in my representations, there is a complete lack of confidence in the integrity of the Home Office to manage this client’s bail in a professional manner.
My pleas fell on deaf ears although the judge did humour me before simply brushing aside my detailed representations with a simple “I am not with you on this Mr Ansari”.
But at least my client is free ….for now.
Visadreams.com, Diary of an Immigration Lawyer, is a blog run by Fahad Ansari, the director and principal solicitor of Riverway Law, a niche UK immigration and nationality law practice based in London. If you would like any advice or assistance in relation to your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your details here.