Clarification on the reinstatement arrangement of refugee hearings in the Immigration and Protection Tribunal has been issued by the Tribunal Chair, Judge Peter Spiller.
This follows a meeting between representatives of the refugee bar and Judge Spiller, Tribunal Deputy-Chair Martin Treadwell and Minja Pesic.
Judge Spiller says the standard notice period for refugee appeal hearings, without prior consultation with counsel as to their availability, will be at least 12 weeks.
"Should the IPT propose to schedule hearings with less than 12 weeks' notice, the IPT staff will liaise with counsel concerned as to their availability before issuing the notice of hearing. This situation may occur, for example, where refugees are in custody, and where it is prima facie evident to the Tribunal that less notice than 12 weeks is necessary.
"Counsel will be asked to indicate at the time of lodging the refugee appeal form (or soon thereafter) if it is considered that an appeal may/should be heard in less than the standard 12-week period. Such an indication is not binding on counsel and may be changed if counsel later become aware of new issues or greater complexity, but it will strongly assist the Tribunal to manage case-flow and provide fast and efficient services, to have this early indication."
Judge Spiller says the IPT staff will send a copy of the Refugee Status Branch file to counsel as soon as it is received from the Refugee Status Branch (and no later than the notice of hearing).
"Particularly counsel who are regularly engaged in refugee hearings should give early notice to the Tribunal of any planned periods of unavailability."
He says any requests for adjournments of Tribunal hearings will follow the procedure outlined in the Practice Note 2/2015 (Refugee and Protection). Judge Spiller has drawn particular attention to paragraphs 16.1 and 16.2.
"In view of the extended period of notice, pre-hearing teleconferences will be held 4 weeks before the hearing, rather than the existing 3 weeks. This should assist with preparation.
"The Tribunal accepts that the members of the refugee bar share with the Tribunal the statutory aim of a fair, orderly and expeditious process in the hearing of refugee claims. We look forward to your continued co-operation in achieving this aim."