Steps if Not Taking a Client

Tips for Informing Someone You Cannot Represent Them

  • Keep the discussion simple. There is no need to over-explain.
  • Be respectful but firm.
  • Spend most of the discussion explaining and providing alternatives such as the Self Help Kit or referrals to other organizations or NGO’s who may be better equipped to deal with the person’s concerns.
  • Remember why you have to say no.
  • Develop and review a Screening Process to develop best practices.
  • Make a note in the client’s case log of the conversation you had with him, and note the reasons why you cannot represent him.

Sample Scripts

The following are samples scripts to say no to potential clients in different scenarios:

  • An economic migrant
  • When your capacity is stretched
  • A person is presenting a claim that gives rise to strong credibility concerns

The Economic Migrant

You have had an initial interview with a potential client and it has become apparent that they are an economic migrant rather than a refugee. You therefore need to let the person know the refugee legal clinic cannot take their case on.

NB Please remember that if a client starts an interview stating that they have crossed a border to seek a better life and a better job this does not automatically make them an economic migrant rather than a refugee. They may simply be confused as to what information you need to show to be a refugee. That is why it is vital to spend sufficient time with each client to understand all their reasons for fleeing their country of origin.

SUGGESTED RESPONSE:

Many thanks Mr. J for coming to the office. While I have the utmost sympathy for your story, unfortunately, I do not feel we can help you with your specific application for asylum in this country. As you will see from the refugee definition from the 1951 Convention (show them the definition) it is extremely unlikely that the UNHCR will view you as refugee as you travelled to this country for purely economic reasons.

However, this in no way means we cannot assist you further and you have a number of options available to you:

  • We can give you a self-help kit which can assist you in completing your application for asylum if this is the course you decided to take
  • I am happy to talk you through the various Visa options available to you so you can apply to remain here.
  • We can discuss the work of other organizations close by which may be better suited to assisting you, for example the Red Cross.

Stretched Resources

You have an initial interview with a potential client and their case appears to have merit and quite straightforward, however in your weekly meeting with the team and your manager, the decision is made to give the client a self-help kit as the office is stretched with various appeal cases and particularly vulnerable cases with women and children.

SUGGESTED RESPONSE:

Many thanks Mr. R for coming to the office last week. After reviewing your case with the team we are happy to offer you assistance through our self-help kit and will give you all the information you require relating to other organizations in the area that have the potential to assist you.

We unfortunately are unable to represent you through your asylum case due to capacity constraints within the office. As you can image we work with very tight resources and therefore we have to assist with the most vulnerable and pressing cases as a priority.

This does not mean however we think you have a small chance of success with your application. We strongly recommend reading and using the self-help kit throughout your RSD process. Also, please do not hesitate to come back to the office if you have any further queries and most importantly if your situation changes or you find yourself in trouble.

If you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to ask me any questions.

Credibility Concerns

You have an initial interview with a potential client. During the interview he is extremely nervous and anxious.

He starts the interview by saying he fled his country because the state was persecuting him, through harassment by the police and state officials. He also states his brother was killed by the police.

Later in the interview it appears he has amended his story and now is stating armed guerrillas attacked him and stole all his possessions, while he and his brother escaped. When you question the two apparently conflicting versions of his story, he becomes more nervous and then agitated claiming you are calling him a liar.

If it comes to light that the potential client is lying, for example changing his story to fit with the definition of a refugee under the Statute, or you feel is his claim is abusive or if there are more urgent cases and resources are stretched then here is a suggested responses:

SUGGESTED RESPONSE:

Many thanks Mr F for coming to the office. Unfortunately, we feel there are some major discrepancies in your account of events and so your story does not appear to add up. Unless you can re-amend it, we do not feel we can represent you at this time.

As we hold the decision makers at UNHCR to the highest ethical standards, we have to hold ourselves to the same.

If you are unwilling to reconsider your testimony, then we can only assist you further with the following:

  • We can give you a self-help kit which can assist you in completing your application for asylum if this is the course you decided to take
  • We can discuss the work of other organizations close by which may be better suited to assisting you, for example the Red Cross
  • If on reflection you believe that you do not fit the refugee definition as explained, we can happily discuss various visa options you can apply for

We would stress that it is imperative to tell the truth during the whole RSD process. If the UNHCR find large discrepancies in your story this can seriously jeopardize your chances of gaining asylum.

If you have any queries or concerns pleasenot hesitate to ask me any questions.