The immigration and asylum appeal process can move very quickly, so the lawyer and the expert witness will need to be clear on the date by which the report is due. A case is usually listed at the Tribunal or Court 4-6 weeks from when the appeal is lodged. Adjournments can be difficult to get although they are not impossible if a clear time frame for the report can be provided. The report will be part of the ‘bundle’ of documents that needs to be lodged With the Home Office and Tribunal at least a week before the hearing.
If the report is being funded through legal aid, the lawyer will then need, in most cases, to seek authorization from the legal aid funders. In England and Wales, legal aid is provided by the Legal Aid Agency, in Scotland by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and in Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission. The process for funding is slightly different in all three jurisdictions.
The lawyer will then provide the expert witness with his or her instructions, together with all the background paperwork. Such paperwork will normally include a witness statement from the appellant, the transcript of the interview between the Home Office and the appellant, and the Home Office Reasons for Refusal letter.
Mostly, expert witnesses will not meet the lawyer’s client, and often there is no need to do so. Indeed, it maybe better not to meet the appellant face to face, as the role of the expert is to comment on the account given by the appellant to immigration decision makers, and this can be taken from the case documents. Occasionally, however, it may be useful to hold a short meeting if this will help answer the questions asked by the appellant’s lawyer, and the expert is qualified to do so.