There is a big difference between immigration litigation and completing and filing immigration applications.
In the UK, there is a distinction between litigators (or barristers) and solicitors.
Both of course are important but require different skills sets.
Immigration hearings and appeals (and judicial review matters before the Federal Court) requires counsel that can effectively advocate and advance the client’s matter.
Mr. Paul Aterman:
Thank you for the question.
The cases I mentioned where we’ve reported counsel to a regulator, whether it’s the immigration consultant regulator or a law society, are what I would call the more egregious cases. They’re the clearest of instances where we feel there’s been a breach of professional standards or the code of ethics. That said, there’s a large grey area. The quality of representation may not be so bad as to justify reporting the person to a regulator, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. I think that’s the area we tend to focus on in terms of trying to work with the regulator and with professional immigration consultant groups to raise the standard of practice.
In my mind—and I’m only speaking from the board’s perspective, obviously—there’s a big distinction between the litigation work we see and the kind of work that involves assisting a client to fill in applications. Lawyers go through three years of law school, through an articling period. They have to be called to the bar. It’s a more rigorous regime than the one that’s expected of immigration consultants. Certainly when it comes to the question of litigation, there is considerable scope for improvement when it comes to immigration consultants acting as litigators.