3.1 Key Elements of the Adviser/Client Relationship

Beginning a Case

Some projects or services might be strictly limited in scope - for example your assistance might be confined to one-off advice or assistance. However you are more likely to be offering a complete service, representing the client until the matter is resolved, or until it reaches a stage where you can no longer act. When you do this you are entering into a contract with your client. There will be obligations on both sides - even if your client is not paying for your service.

Responsibilities usually involve

  • Taking and following instructions.
  • Ascertaining exactly who is your client (usually this will be the person giving instructions, but not always - your client will be the person making the application, not their sponsor who comes to see you in the UK, if they have one!).
  • Advising your client.
  • Taking steps to resolve the immigration issue on the client’s behalf (at Level 1, this usually means submitting an application).
  • Acting in your client’s best interest.
  • Having trust and confidence in your client (note: this does not mean that you must believe whatever your client tells you - if you have good reasons to doubt your client you can and should discuss this with them).
  • Maintaining confidentiality.
  • Ensuring that the client is giving their instructions freely (note: if you suspect that your client is acting under duress or under the influence of someone else, you will need to exercise your judgment as to whether to continue to act).
  • You should meet at intervals with the client (virtually and/ or in person) to discuss progress, review documents sent and received and to plan next steps.
  • You should keep your client informed of all developments in their case You should always record in writing the advice you have given.
  • You must keep the client informed in writing of any risks which exist or which might arise as the case develops.
  • Beware of any deadlines from court or the UKVI- ensure that you never miss a deadline and if there are reasons beyond your control why you cannot meet a deadline, write to those concerned and request an extension of time.
  • Always speak to your supervisor if you are unsure about an ethical issue that might arise in the course of obtaining instructions
Note: Your client also has a duty to also keep you informed of any developments that might have a bearing on their case such as a change to their financial and or family situation.

Ending a Case

There are many reasons why the relationship might end and the most common ones are:

  • The client is granted immigration status or refused, and the client agrees that no further action should be taken.
  • It becomes apparent that your client needs advice or assistance that neither you nor your organisation have the required level of competence. For example, if you are working in a Level 2 organisation and your client needs help with an appeal.
  • You lose contact with the client and can no longer take instructions- you would normally send a letter to the client's last known address requesting the client to contact your offices. This normally within 14days of receipt of the letter.
  • The client decides to stop instructing you or changes to another advisor.
  • You are no longer able to continue to advise due to a breakdown in your relationship with the client – if the client is unhappy with the service provided every effort should be made to find out the problem and resolve it if you can.
  • Your client has become abusive and you cannot reasonably be expected to ignore this. (Small verbal outbursts at times of extreme stress may be tolerated.)
  • Your client has become uncooperative to the extent that you can no longer effectively represent them.
  • Your client has used deception and will not allow you to reveal the truth. In these circumstances you must withdraw from the case.