Tuesday, 31 January 2017

New Chairman for SIAC, POAC and PAAC

Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing became Chairman of SIAC, POAC and PAAC on 19th January - Judiciary announcement.  The previous Chairman was Mr Justice Flaux who, since December 2016, is now Lord Justice Flaux.

Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC):

In 1998, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act (SIACA) 1997 established the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) to hear appeals against immigration decisions in national security cases and introduced the radical concept of a 'closed material procedure' in which SIAC and security- cleared 'special advocates' would be able to consider sensitive material but the appellant and his representatives would not.   SIAC was a response to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Chahal v United Kingdom 1996.  SIAC is a superior court of record.   "Members" of SIAC are appointed by the Lord Chancellor and one of them is appointed as Chairman - (SIACA Schedule 1). Here is an example of a recruitment advertisement for new lay members.

Some judgments of SIAC are reported by Bailii - HERE.  SIAC was the subject of a report by the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee - 7th Report 2004-5.

Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC):

Created by section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2000.  The Act lists a number of proscribed organisations and the Secretary of State may add to the list - TA section 3.  Application for deproscription may be made to the Secretary of State - section 4 - and, if it is refused there may be an appeal to POAC.

See Schedule 3 to the Terrorism Act 2000.

An example of a body becoming deproscribed is the Peoples Mujahiddin of Iran (PMOI) - see this House of Commons Library - Standard Note 23rd March 2009.

Pathogens Access Appeals Commission (PAAC): 

This Commission hears appeals from those who are barred from a site where dangerous viruses, bacteria or toxic substances are kept or used. The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 Part 7 is concerned with the security of pathogens and toxins.  The Secretary of State has the power (section 64) to exclude individuals from access to such sites.  PAAC was created by section 70 to hear any appeals from such individuals.

Whilst such bodies have been criticised as "secret courts" it is essential that there are processes in place to deal with cases where very serious issues of national security arise.  The current system is the UK's attempt to deal with those cases in fair manner.  It is always open to Parliament to examine the workings of SIAC and the other Commissions.  Appeals on points of law are also available as specified in the legislation.

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