Judicial Review Asylum Seeker Project
CASE has recently established the Judicial Review Asylum
Seeker Project (JRASP) to assist offshore detainees to access
judicial review. The success of the scheme relies entirely on
the pro-bono support offered by the legal profession.
As you may be aware, in November 2010, the High Court handed
down the decision in Plaintiff M61/2010E v Commonwealth of
Australia; Plaintiff M69 of 2010 v Commonwealth of Australia 
HCA 41 (M61). This decision had the effect of giving the
right of judicial review to asylum seeker detainees.
Current numbers indicate that there are approximately 1,000
detainees in Australia who have been refused protection visas and
may seek judicial review. Additionally, there are approximately
2,200 detainees who are awaiting a final decision from the
Department of Immigration and Citizenship on their matter and may
therefore hold this right as well. The detention centres are spread
across the country with the two largest being Curtin in Western
Australia and Scherger in Queensland.
Since late July, CASE has received requests from 30 clients
within detention who are seeking advice on judicial review.
Each day this number increases. We have received requests for
legal assistance from both Christmas Island and Curtin Detention
Centres. We are also receiving calls from other legal
agencies and human rights advocates. The number of asylum seekers
requiring legal assistance continues to grow each day.
The government has not provided any funding for these
people to access legal advice or representation. Across Australia,
existing clearing houses such as PILCH NSW and PILCH Victoria have
established projects to assist these clients. There is no
similar organization in WA that is able to provide this
Following consultation with Legal Aid WA and the WA Law Society and
considering the urgent need of these clients and the time
limitations which apply to lodge an appeal, CASE for Refugees has
decided to establish a clearing house for these matters. The
establishment of this clearinghouse has been funded by employing a
solicitor 2 days per week to co-ordinate the project. This
will only be for a limited time whilst longer term funding is
sought for the project.
We intend to adopt triage approach to process applications for
assistance. The first task is to assess the legal merit of the
matter. Where capacity permits, CASE and Legal Aid WA will conduct
this assessment in-house. However, due to the volume of
applications, CASE will also be seeking to refer a number of
matters to pro bono solicitors and counsel for merits assessment.
If we are advised there is a reasonable prospect of success, we
then we will seek to refer it to pro bono lawyers to represent the
client and conduct the proceedings in the Federal Court.
We write to you to seek your support in the implementation of
the above tasks. We are looking for solicitors and barristers
who are willing to act pro-bono in these matters. We
encourage you to register yourself, even if you feel that you may
only be able to do one or two matters. We also encourage you
to register if you are interested but do not feel that you have
sufficient knowledge in this particular area of law. If we
have enough interest, we will consider conducting training to
develop your knowledge and skills.
To register, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please advise in what capacity you feel you may be able to
assist. We will be looking for assistance with initial merit
assessment, instructing counsel and also for those prepared to
represent the clients through the court processes.
Australia has obligations to protect the human rights of all
asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia, regardless of
how or where they arrive and whether they arrive with or without a
visa. It's unfortunate that the debate continues to focus on asylum
seekers rather than unjust and inhumane policies.
We hope you can support us assisting those who are most in need
of seeking Australia's protection.