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Pre-Action Protocol Letter

A Pre-Action Protocol Letter, or a PAP, is an important legal letter that is sent to the Home Office in order to attempt to resolve a dispute before any court proceedings or court action begins.

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    What is a Pre-Action Protocol Letter?

    A Pre-Action Protocol Letter is a legal letter written to the Home Office before court proceedings to try and resolve any matters first.

    The Pre-Action Protocol Letter contains the key matters that would be raised in legal proceedings. It sets out all the legal grounds and shows how the action was unlawful.

    It is also sometimes referred to as a ‘letter before claim’ or ‘letter before action’. It is typically used if you want to challenge a visa refusal.

    What is the Purpose of a Pre-Action Protocol Letter?

    The overall purpose of a Pre-Action Protocol Letter is for the party or individual bringing the judicial review to set out their case against the Respondent, the Secretary of State for the Home Department (the Home Office).

    This means that the Respondent can consider your case before any commencing proceedings.

    The objectives of the pre-action conduct are to:

    • understand each other’s position
    • try to settle the issues without court proceedings that have more legal costs
    • support the efficient management of proceedings and practice direction where litigation cannot be avoided
    • reduce costs for all parties in resolving the dispute

    What Should I Include in a Pre-Action Protocol Letter for an Immigration Claim?

    The letter should clearly contain why the immigration decision is being challenged and the date of the decision.

    It should set out the complaint or claim and make it obvious that court action will be started if no response is received within specified time limits. The time frame that you specify is usually 14 days.

    The letter acts as a final warning to the other party that court proceedings will be started if the problem has not been resolved within the specified time.

    Call Immigration Advice Service on 0333 305 9375 to seek advice and assistance with drafting a Pre-Action Protocol Letter. We can save you time and make sure that it includes all the correct details.

    Why is a Pre-Action Protocol Letter Important?

    If a client and their legal advisor do not send a letter of a written agreement before action, this may affect the court’s decision on who should have to pay the costs.

    It is also important because if alternatives to court action have not been tried, the court may decide that court action was unnecessary and a waste of the court’s and the other party’s time and resources.

    What Happens After Sending a Pre-Action Protocol Letter?

    If the Home Office has not responded within the required 14 days of receiving the Pre-Action Protocol Letter, you can then lodge a Judicial Review.

    You will have to make an application to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum) Chamber for permission to apply for Judicial Review. This application is normally made on paper and without a court hearing. The court will respond and grant permissions or refusals back to you on paper.

    The Home Office will then have to decide whether they want to defend their decision or to offer to review their decision. They have 21 days to respond and if they do not respond in time, the Judge may decide the case without their input or they can grant them an extension of time.

    However, they are not able to ignore the legal claim.

    If a response to the Pre-Action Protocol Letter is received offers terms of the settlement, these should be fully discussed with you and the possibilities of further negotiation should be explored before any court proceedings are started.

    You may prefer not to take alternative dispute resolution and take it to court if a reasonable settlement is reached. You should be advised that if you proceed and the court orders a similar settlement to that available before the court case, then the court can award costs against you unless this would be unjust.

    We can provide you with expert legal advice to help resolve your legal disputes.

    How Can IAS Help?

    IAS is here to reduce the stress of your immigration matter. Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the Pre-Action Protocol letter, from helping with drafting the letter to submitting it correctly.

    We can also help with expert advice relating to an immigration appeal or the Judicial Review.

    A professional UK Immigration lawyer at IAS will be able to provide you with the best legal expertise and assistance needed to make a Pre-Action Protocol Letter as successful as possible.

    A lawyer will be able to help you know your rights under the action protocol, prepare the letter on your behalf, as well as advise you on the best solutions for your specific case.

    Contact Immigration Advice Service today at 0333 305 9375, or use the live chat function.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    You are allowed to challenge the unlawfulness of a UK visa refusal using a Pre-Action Protocol Letter against the Home Office in the following circumstances:

    • The refusal does not confirm your rights to be able to appeal this decision or ask for an Administrative Review of the refusal of your immigration application.
    • Your Administrative Review against the refusal of your immigration application has not been successful and you do not have the right to be able to appeal against this refusal.
    • Your request for a re-evaluation of the refusal of applying for British citizenship by naturalisation (form AN) has not been successful.
    • The Home Office has been unable to make a decision on your UK visa within a sufficient timeframe. This delay in the application being processed can be challenged using a Pre-Action Protocol Letter and further Judicial Review.

    The pre-action protocol does not in any way affect the time limit for lodging a judicial review claim. The time limit begins from the date of the decision you wish to challenge regardless of whether or not you have engaged in the pre-action protocol.

    The judge will expect both parties to have followed the procedure before filing their appeals for review in the first instance. Failure to comply with these procedures will have consequences.

    Yes, writing a well-formulated pre-action protocol letter may increase the chances of the matter being resolved earlier, saving you time and money.

    The success rate of Pre-Action Protocol Letters in immigration cases is difficult to assess because the outcome is decided on a case-by-case basis. The outcome really depends on the reasoning behind why your immigration application was refused.

    However, it is considered that the success rate of applications for judicial review that have followed the process of a Pre-Action Protocol Letter is significantly higher than those that do not

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