A constitutional row appeared to be brewing this morning over the deployment of judges to handle Rwanda deportation appeals.
In an unusually forthright statement, the Judicial Office said the deployment of judges is a matter for the lady chief justice and senior tribunals president. The judiciary was responding to reports that the prime minister plans to draft 150 judges to fast-track Rwanda appeals.
The Judicial Office told the Gazette that it is ‘central to the rule of law’ that judicial deployment remains a decision for the independent judiciary.
The latest version of the Rwanda bill goes to committee stage in the House of Commons today. According to The Times, to stave off a revolt within his party, Rishi Sunak will fast-track migrant appeals against deportation to Rwanda by drafting 150 judges and freeing up courtrooms.
However, the Judicial Office told the Gazette this was incorrect.
The Judicial Office said judicial deployment is the responsibility of the lady chief justice and senior president of tribunals as set out in the Constitutional Reform Act. The Illegal Migration Act allows the senior tribunals president to ask first-tier tribunal judges to sit in the upper tribunal and the president has identified judges who can be asked if needed.
The judicial office said the decision on temporary deployment is for the judiciary and will be taken in the interests of justice, taking into account the need to deal efficiently with all cases before the first-tier and upper tribunals at the time.
A spokesperson for the judiciary said: ‘The deployment of judges is a matter for the judiciary. In line with new provisions in the Illegal Migration Act, the judiciary have identified a number of first-tier tribunal judges who may be asked to sit in the upper tribunal to deal with any increase in appeals that arise from the act.
‘The decision to do so will be taken by the senior president of tribunals when the provisions in the act commence, taking into account the interests of justice and the need for all matters before the tribunals to handled quickly and efficiently.’