In your role as a Level 1 adviser you can be expected to draft the following documents:
Advice letters to clients (including Client Care Letters).
Letters of representation to the Home Office.
Statements on behalf of clients and/or their family members.
Letters to third parties (e.g. doctors or schools) to request evidence or information.
You may be asked to draft an advice letter or a letter to the Home Office on assessment.
It is important to:
Understand the difference good drafting can make;
The danger of cut and paste;
Long does not necessarily mean good;
Getting the law right;
Be clear and avoid legalese.
Typos make you look sloppy.
Inaccuracies in the facts and the law are even worse.
Get someone to check your work.
You can get too close.
The OISC’s Code of Standards requires you to set out any advice you give in writing.
This may be in the form of a client care letter, when first taking instructions, or in the form of a supplementary letter, if circumstances change and you need to update your advice.
You should have a template client care letter which will set out your terms of service, your duty of confidentiality, your complaints procedure, etc.
The template should contain space for you to include your advice.
Supplementary letters may be more free-form as there would be no need to repeat the standard aspects of a client care letter.
On assessment you may be given a set of facts and expected to draft a client care letter or advice letter – you will only be concerned with drafting the advice part of the letter.
Advice letters need to cover the following:
Your client’s instructions (in summary form, and ending in a sentence asking them to inform you if there are any mistakes or misunderstandings).
Your advice (so that your client can refer to this, if required).
Any agreed actions (so that it is clear what you will do and what your client needs to do).
Any key dates or deadlines (so that these can be diarised).
You may wish to break down your advice into subheadings, for example:
The application(s) you can make
The requirements you must meet
The evidence you must provide
The procedures for applying
Your prospects for success
What you will get if your application succeeds
What you can do if your application does not succeed
Your advice letter should be written in a style that your client can easily understand:
With a well educated client you may be able to include more legal terminology.
With a less well educated client you will need to explain things in simpler terms.
In general you should:
Be polite and courteous
Avoid official language, jargon, acronyms, legal terminology, etc. except where necessary
Where such language is necessary, explain what it means
Avoid long or complicated sentences
Use headings, bullet points, etc. to make the information as accessible as possible
There is more advice on drafting in the "OISC Exam Resources" section of the website.
Letters of Representation
Any application will require a covering letter informing the Home Office that you are acting for the client and enclosing your letter of authority (a document signed by the client authorising you to act for them)
The structure will be broadly similar to an advice letter:
The application your client is making
An itemised list of all documents and evidence submitted in support of the application
How your client meets the requirements
How the evidence shows that they meet the requirements
An invitation for the Home Office to grant leave, with appropriate conditions
You should use plain English, but slightly more formal and employing the correct legal terminology