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What is Pre-action Protocol and How Does It Impact UK Immigration Law?



If you get involved in a Court case, then there are rules about how both sides in a dispute must behave before they start Court proceedings. These requirements are set out in the Upper Tribunal/Civil Procedure Rules and include things like trying to resolve a dispute before it gets to Court. This is referred to as the Pre-action Protocol.

What is a Pre-action Protocol Letter?

A Pre-action Protocol letter or PAP is a legal letter written to try and resolve a dispute before it ends up in Court. A PAP is sometimes also called a ‘letter before action’ or a ‘letter before claim.’

The PAP captures the elements of the claim that will be heard in Court and sets out why the claimant believes a decision was unlawful and the legal grounds to support it.

The Court expects parties to the claim to have complied with the Pre-action Protocol; failing to do so can have serious consequences. If it appears that the case could have been settled outside Court and one of the parties has chosen not to engage with the Pre-action Protocol, then they can be ordered to pay both their and the other side’s costs even if they win.

How Does Pre-action Protocol Impact Immigration Cases?

Pre-action Protocol Letters perform the same role in immigration cases as in other claims. The person seeking review sets out their case against the Home Office (the Secretary of State for the Home Department), also known as ‘the Respondent.’

The purpose of a PAP in immigration cases is to identify the points of contention between the parties and to see if it is possible to avoid litigation. The letter should include a detailed statement of facts supporting the applicant’s claim against the Home Office.

There is an opportunity for the Respondent to consider the merits of the case before any Court action begins. Both sides can swap information and learn more about the other’s position. If possible, the dispute can be settled without needing to go to Court, saving time and money. Even if litigation is unavoidable, Pre-action Protocol can help the proceedings run more smoothly.

What Happens Next in an Immigration Case When a Pre-action Protocol Letter Is Sent?

Once your lawyer has sent a PAP, the Home Office has fourteen days to respond. If they fail to do so, then you can lodge a Judicial Review. What this means in practice is that your legal representative will apply to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum) Chamber for Judicial Review of your case.

The Home Office has the option to defend its original decision or concede the case as outlined in the Pre-action Protocol letter. At this point, the Home Office has twenty-one days to respond. Failure to do so means the Judge may decide the case without hearing any further input from them, or the Court may grant a time extension to allow them to respond, depending on the circumstances.

Are you thinking about Applying for Judicial Review in an Immigration Case?

Once you wish to challenge an immigration decision from the Home Office in Court, you will usually need legal representation to steer you through the Pre-action Protocol requirements. It’s essential to find the right expert support.

An immigration specialist will manage all the legal requirements on your behalf to satisfy the Pre-action Protocol rules, including preparing the letter and a detailed statement of facts on which the claim is based.

WH Solicitors, the Friendly Immigration Professionals

WH Solicitors are experienced immigration specialists handling visa applications, appeals against decisions, and applications for Judicial Review, which may or may not end up in Court. Our friendly team of experts is approachable and communicates in a straightforward way, explaining the process to you as you go along.

Why Use WH Solicitors?

WH Solicitors’ specialist immigration advice service is made up of a team of highly experienced professionals who will handle all aspects of the Judicial Review process for you. Our pricing is fair, affordable, and completely transparent, so you know exactly how much you will be paying, and we guarantee no hidden charges.

Here’s how we can help.

  • Review your case, including the reasons for refusal from the Home Office and whether they violate the relevant immigration rules
  • Assess your claim and discuss with you the strengths and weaknesses of your case
  • Present your claim against the decision if you decide to proceed to apply for a Judicial Review
  • Comply with Pre-Action Protocols regarding a letter before action and a detailed statement of fact setting out the grounds for contesting the Home Office’s decision.
  • Arrange for legalised translations of documents that are not in English or Welsh
  • Present the Judicial Review to the Court
  • Represent you throughout the entire process, including liaising with both the Court and the Home Office and dealing with their responses

Frequently Asked Questions


Is There a Court Hearing in a Judicial Review?

There is not usually a Court hearing; the Court makes a decision based ‘on papers,’ which means on the documentary evidence before it. You can read more about the Judicial Review process by clicking here.

How do the time limits for Judicial Review and Pre-action Protocol work?

The time limits for Pre-action Protocol and for lodging a Judicial Review do not collide or overlap. The time limit for Judicial Review runs from the date of the decision you want to challenge, irrespective of whether you have been involved in Pre-action Protocol.

Get in Touch

Contact WH Solicitors for fast and professional legal advice on Judicial Review and Pre-action Protocols. We offer expert and targeted support to help you make the right decision over a Home Office immigration refusal. It’s not possible to consider Judicial Review without legal representation, so choose the best in this field, WH Solicitors, for swift and cost-effective legal advice.

The contents of this webpage are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal advice. All information is correct as of the date of publication, and any individual or organisation should be careful to seek qualified advice from a specialist immigration lawyer before acting on any of the topics referenced by this content.