There continues to be no legal requirement that a party before the IRB be represented by counsel.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is committed to fairness in its dealings with all those with proceedings before it, regardless of whether they are self represented or are represented by counsel.
In implementing the changes to the refugee determination system set out in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, the IRB has included in its rules the requirement that referring officers proactively advise refugee claimants in writing of critical information regarding the process, such as:
- the importance of obtaining relevant documentary evidence in a timely manner;
- how the hearing will proceed;
- disclosure of country conditions that the Board will rely on in making a decision on the claim; and
- the right to be represented by legal or other counsel and where and how to obtain counsel.
This information is contained primarily in the IRB's revised Claimant's Kit, which will include a claimant guide, information regarding legal aid, as well as a summary document outlining "important instructions". This latter document will be available in multiple languages.
The IRB will also provide other tools and user-friendly information to support claimants who are not represented, such as a video and an updated website that is easy to navigate.
The Board will continue to work in consultation with stakeholders in the months ahead to further refine its practices, procedures, and communications in relation to self-represented claimants.