A LAWYER dealing with asylum seekers in Huddersfield has voiced fears over new legislation.
Ranjit Uppal fears many asylum seekers will be prevented from receiving a fair hearing in April, when Legal Aid is to be slashed to a quarter of its present level.
People seeking asylum in Britain will have the 20 free hours of legal advice to which they are now entitled cut to five.
Mr Uppal, a solicitor specialising in immigration law at Huddersfield firm, Parker Bird, said: "It will have a huge impact for us in preparing applications.
"You cannot take instructions from a client in a few hours, through an interpreter, about how their partner was killed and they were raped.
"There are a lot of complicated cases out there."
Mr Uppal, Huddersfield's only immigration specialist, said the five hours of Legal Aid to be allocated to clients also had to cover the typing of statements, translations back to the client with an interpreter and then amendments.
Examinations by doctors for evidence of torture was an additional cost, amounting to up to £250 to £600.
And the costs of this would not be borne by public money after April.
Mr Uppal added: "What this means is that we cannot get the medical evidence at the outset - which we should - to show that a case is genuine.
"I will have to go to an adjudicator with two arms tied behind my back."
Statements may be incomplete because money is not there to cover a full account.
"The courts will have difficulties dealing with the claims if the information is not there," he said.
"Ultimately, many genuine asylum seekers are going to suffer.
" Their cases will not be prepared to a correct standard in five hours and they will not be able to pay private client rates of £85 to £150 an hour."
Kirklees Council accepts asylums seekers from Iraq, Iran, Kosovo and Zimbabwe.
People seeking asylum have to prove they fulfil criteria set down by the Geneva Convention.
This means they have to prove that their fear is current and well-founded and that they are suffering persecution on grounds of race, religion, nationality or social group and that there is no protection in their own country.
Mr Uppal, who has been practising immigration law in Huddersfield for seven years, said he had had to "sack" only 12 clients because their cases for asylum were unfounded.
Legal Aid is also being cut for people seeking advice on immigration law in general.
"If you have a friend abroad who you want to sponsor to come to a wedding, or a niece to study in UK, you will be entitled to only three hours' advice," said Mr Uppal. "It has far-reaching implications."