Court Ethnography


ASYFAIR conducts ethnographic observations in asylum appeal hearing centres in France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and the UK. We collect both qualitative and quantitative data on asylum adjudication procedure.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to participate in court ethnographies, and/or require any further information. 


Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 



The ASYFAIR research team will watch public court proceedings from the public area of the court. We will observe what happens during the hearing. We will take notes of the procedure, the questions and answers during the hearing, the evidence that is presented for and against the asylum claim, as well as the behaviour of all case participants.

The project aims to collect enough information to understand how judges and others involved in the asylum adjudication process can ensure that appellants understand the processes and can take part in them where possible and appropriate.


Source:  Manfred Steger from Pixabay


The information will be analysed to see if there are patterns in the ways asylum appeals are heard. It will be securely stored and transferred and it will be anonymous, which means it will not be possible to identify cases from anything that is published as part of the research. This will include taking out identifying names and places, as well as altering unusual events and characteristics where possible and appropriate.

The data will be used to write academic research that will be published in academic journals and discussed at academic conferences. In addition, as the study aims to improve asylum adjudication, we may use anonymised data to present to policy makers, the public and the media.

The anonymised research information will be kept on a secure archive for ten years as required by the University of Exeter. After this time it will be securely disposed of.



There are no direct short-term benefits for taking part in this research. However this study may help improve the life of asylum seekers by drawing attention to what can be improved about the system of asylum appeals.



There are no risks to case participants. The ASYFAIR research team will be unobtrusive, quiet and respectful of both legal procedure and case participants. All research activities are carried out according to the ethical guidelines set by professional standards and checked by the European Research Council and the University of Exeter.



We will not record names, dates of birth or addresses anywhere in the data. The ASYFAIR research team will respect the participants’ privacy and will only collect personal data where absolutely necessary for the research. All researchers who work with the information have to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Some of the data that we collect might be sensitive or personal data and we will therefore store it securely and treat it carefully. We will ensure that there will be no information in our published research or in the data available to other researchers in the future that would identify specific cases and participants.

Research is carried out in the public interest, in accordance with current Data Protection legislation. We will not share personal data with anyone outside the ASYFAIR research team, and we will not transfer personal data to a country outside of the European Economic Area and the UK unless that country ensures an adequate level of protection.

All collected data, data analysis and data storage are subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679. If you have any concerns about data protection, please contact the data protection officer at the researchers’ home institution (

Further information on data protection is available here.



If participants do not want their case to be observed, or change their mind later, they can let us know, and we will remove their case from our data. There are absolutely no penalties for withdrawing. Participants do not have to give a reason and we will respect their decision.

If participants want to withdraw at a later point, they can tell us in person, or contact us at any time in various ways: online on our website, by emailing the researchers, by emailing the ethics officer at the University of Exeter, by post, or by phoning us.


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Ethnography Information Sheet – English

You can find further information and info sheets to download in German, French, Arabic, Urdu, Pashto and Farsi. Please follow the links in the main menu or sidebar for information in various languages.