YLAL’s Tara Mulcair writes for YLAL’s series in Legal Voice; This (young legal aid) life.
“I start preparing for a video link with a new client at 10:30. The client has been detained in prison under immigration powers for over a year, following the conclusion of a six-month sentence. He has been told that he will be deported but has no idea when. He was recently seriously assaulted by another prisoner and wants advice about a claim for damages.
I read through his letter, which is brief, and remind myself of the law. I then prepare an agenda for the meeting, including a set of questions to help me assess the merits of any claims he may bring. When the video link begins, the client seems very low. He explains that he has been detained in HMP Pentonville for 18 months and is frightened to return to his country of origin. The Home Office does not have a travel document for him and therefore cannot give him a timeframe for when he may be deported. He has however, recently been granted immigration bail and is waiting for the Home Office to approve his application for accommodation.
I take his full instructions in relation to the assault on him and his immigration detention. I explain the civil litigation process to him and the steps we will take. By the end of the video link, I feel that I’ve built a good rapport with him and he seems far more relaxed. I then discuss the case with my supervisor and we consider the potential causes of action and time limits.”