Crime duty tender postponed until October

The LAA had previously said that the tender for duty work from 2015 would open by the end of July. As at close of business today, there was nothing on its website regarding the tender, though it has published draft contract documents. However, the Gazette’s Catherine Baksi is reporting that the tender has been postponed until October.

 

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Old civil forms now accepted up to 1 September

Further to our recent post, the LAA has issued an update earlier today which states that although the new legal aid forms will be available on 4 August, it will still be acceptable to use the old forms until the end of the month.

Pre 4 August paper forms received on or before 5pm on 5 September but signed and dated before 1 September 2014 will still be acceptable.

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New Advocates Attendance Form from 31 July 2014

There will be a new FAS Advocates Attendance Form EX506, to be used for all hearings starting 31 July 2014. Unfortunately, HMCTS does not provide forms in advance of the date they are to be used; but from tomorrow, it will be available via the Court Service Form Finder.

From 31 July, the bundle bolt on fee will be claimed by reference to the Advocates Bundle, not the Court Bundle. The LAA has provided a training module and workbook which provide more information about what is required to justify a bundle payment here.

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Civil forms change 4th August

Practitioners should note that the bulk of the civil legal aid forms are changing with effect from next week. The new forms can be found here. Following the successful JR, it appears references to the residence test that were on the draft forms have been removed.

Old versions signed on or before 3rd August will be accepted up to 31st August, but any signatures dated from 4th August should be on the new forms.

UPDATE 31st July: The LAA has now said it will accept old versions provided they are signed before 1st September and received by 5th September.

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Important domestic violence case for refugees

The challenge was by a post-flight spouse of a refugee who was accepted to have been a victim of domestic violence and sought access to public funds through the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC) (incorporated in Section DVILR of Appendix FM). The Home Office determined that she could not be considered under the relevant rule due to her husband not having settled status at the date she secured leave to enter the UK.

The spouse (Mrs. T) JR’d the Home Office decision. Though expressing concern that there were some difficulties with the drafting of this part of the Rules, Dingemans J held that the relevant Rule was to be read as requiring a victim of domestic violence to have been either married to a British citizen or a settled person at the date of the last grant of leave to enter or remain and therefore the rules did not provide the Secretary of State with a discretion to consider persons such as post-flight spouses of refugees, despite the strong liklihood that the spouse would ultimately secure settlement, as occurred in this case.

You can read the judgment – R (on the application of T) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWHC 2453 (Admin) in full here.

Mrs. T was represented by Solange Valdez, Ealing Law Centre and by Ms. Judith Farbey QC, Doughty Street Chambers, and Mr. Declan O’Callaghan, Landmark Chambers. Ealing Law Centre initially acted pro bono, as the client did not meet the requirements of paragraph 28 of Schedule 1 of LASPO; but the JR was legal aid funded.

Mrs. T’s legal representatives intend to appeal.

 

 

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Legal aid annual statistics

Following up our note on the blog, we have a more detailed discussion of the legal aid annual statistics in this month’s Legal Action. It is also available on the LAG website here (scroll down to second article).

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LAA guidance on refugee family reunion cases

Six weeks after the High Court ruled that it was in scope of LASPO, the LAA has finally issued some guidance for practitioners.

Immigration contract holders can open matter starts for this work – and will be paid for it even if the MoJ appeal is successful. (Edit – it appears from the note on the LAA site that, if the appeal is successful, funding will stop at that point, even if partway through a case, but will not be retrospectively withdrawn).

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