There have been a series of important announcements by the LSC in recent days:
- Extending emergency certificates (see separate post);
- Changes to when and how you can call and fax the LSC;
- Changes to reporting of immigration cases;
- Services at a new immigration removal centre;
- Re-announcement of family tenders proposal (see previous post);
- New criminal forms.
Problems with the LSC’s processing backlog – applications, amendments and bills – are getting worse. In an attempt to solve one of the problems delay was causing practitioners, they have extended emergency certificates to 8 weeks. Meanwhile, to give themselves more time to cope with the paperwork, they have reduced the times and circumstances in which you can call them to discuss cases. The changes are:
- You can only call them between 10am and noon, or between 3pm and 5pm (between 9am and 1pm if it is about AGFS). At the end of that time, if you are still on hold you will be cut off.
- Even between those hours, you should only call if it is “urgent” – examples given include where a case is imminent or where there is severe financial hardship. No doubt practitioners and LSC caseworkers will define urgent differently.
However, there is no longer any need to phone first to get authorisation to send a fax. But only “urgent” faxes will be accepted and the prescribed fax header sheet must be used. Word and PDF versions of the header sheet can be found on the LSC website.
Immigration practitioners will need to note that from now on bail applications must be given a separate UFN to that of the main case. See the LSC website for guidance. Elsewhere, the LSC has awarded exclusive contracts for detention advice without a tendering process at the new Morton Hall Removal Centre. Contracts are initially for six months. So if you do not hold an exclusive contract, you can not advise clients at Morton Hall (subject to the usual exceptions).
Finally, criminal practioners are reminded that the new CDS 14, 15 and 16 forms become mandatory from 1st August.
UPDATE: This post was amended on 23rd August to correct the link to the fax header sheet following its change on the LSC website