The Brockenhurst and District Probus welcomed Rosemary Tiffin who spoke about her life and times as an asylum and immigration judge. After leaving school with the required O-levels Rosemary joined the Law Society and sought a position as an articled clerk. The 1960s were a challenging time and many male dominated law firms were reluctant to employ women. After many failed attempts she was eventually employed in London with the proviso that, over the next five years, she should pass her Law Society exams and out qualify all her fellow male colleagues. This she did with distinction and established her own law firm in Romford.
The practice ran for 17 years during which time she took sabbaticals to Australia and Orkney. Whilst President of the local Law Society she was approached about becoming a Judge which was readily accepted. With an interest in human rights she applied to the asylum and immigration tribunal. After an arduous interview with three high court judges the intensive training period began. It was stressed that mistakes by asylum and immigration tribunal Judges can send the applicants to their death.
The United Nations defines a refugee as someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Economic migrants are not refugees. An asylum seeker is someone who is also seeking international protection from dangers in his or her home country, but whose claim for refugee status hasn't been determined legally.
The asylum Judge’s routine in the UK is intense. All cases are referred on appeal and one day is allocated to reading the notes of a case, and holding the hearing in chambers. It is important to listen to the applicants, often through interpreters, and determine the true facts of the case. Applicants often arrive in the UK with no paperwork and only speak one word of English: asylum. It is important to determine genuine claims from those which are not. The second day is spent writing the report and determining judgement.
Since 1970 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been at the forefront of assistance to refugees. In 2000 it provided assistance for 22 million refugees globally. By 2022 it had risen to 80 million. In the UK, as of June 2023, 78,000 asylum applications had been received. This is 90% more than in 2022. It continues to be a challenging, and growing, problem.