Just finished (successfully) another IAD appeal - an application to sponsor a member of the family class (spouse). This one had the distinction of 2 previous refusals by a visa officer and one previous refusal by the Immigration Appeal Division. Once we had dealt with the res judicata issue, we had an appeal de novo before the IAD. By this time, the appellant and the applicant have been married (and separated) for almost 7 years.
Preparing for the hearing was daunting given the 5 previous immigration consultants/lawyers retained by the client. There was a lot of 'peripheral' information on the file - and obviously credibility was a central issue. Senior counsel advised a concentration on the basics or fundamentals supportive of a genuine relationship. I'm happy to say that the appeal was allowed, following direct and cross examination of the appellant and applicant.
I suppose there's a dynamic in almost all these hearings: appellants counsel have to attempt to retain the focus on clearly defined issues. Minister's counsel may attempt to bring in a matter not central - it's a time honoured tradition of shifting or diverting the (appropriate) focus of the inquiry.
I guess a lot of what comes out on spousal appeals is "garbage on the lawn". The Minister may feel that this 'garbage' is indicative of a mala fides relationship. It's Appellant's counsel's role to point out that the dispositive issues have little to do with such arguments (focusing the tribunal on issues most favourable to the appellant).
In this particular situation, where there was a mountain of information, one real danger was that the Member would become overburdened with fact and detail. It's vital that the tribunal is "lifted out of the morass of detail".
I have no formal training in advocacy other than my experience before the divisions of the IRB and the Federal Court. Nonetheless, in my view, a blueprint of a closing argument or submissions center on counsel attempting the following:
- Following a logical and consistent format
- Striking a clear/compelling theme
- Separating wheat from the chaff (make it clear to the Member what is peripheral material)
- Organization and mastery of the facts/legal issues
- Summarizing the case to the Member (perhaps more dialogue than legalese)