We have been tweeting some useful resources from Carol Storer at LAPG and Tom Royston of Garden Court North to help practitioners making applications for exceptional case funding.
We can now bring you news of some successful applications thanks to the Travellers Advice Team (TAT) at the Community Law Partnership. They were assisted by Joe Markus and James Stark of Garden Court North.
If at first you don’t succeed
The case concerned a Romani Gypsy client who had been trying to obtain planning permission for her one caravan site. She was barely literate and did not understand the complexities of planning law. Her case had to go to a Public Inquiry and she was not able to represent herself. The TAT applied for exceptional case funding on her behalf.
The LAA argued that the client could represent herself with assistance from a member of her family and refused exceptional case funding. The TAT applied for a judicial review of the decision, which was unsuccessful. However, they lodged a second JR application and shortly thereafter the LAA decided to grant exceptional case funding after all.
Anti social behaviour, demotion of tenancy and loss of home
This client faced demotion of her tenancy due to the anti social behaviour of her son from the age of 7 to 13. The client’s position was that her son suffered from a disability and she could not control him without better medical support. It appeared that demotion of the tenancy was being sought to make it easier for the local authority to evict the client and her family as the local authority would not then need to prove a ground for possession.
The LAA refused legal aid on the basis that demotion of tenancy is out of scope for legal aid. The TAT wrote a judicial review pre-action protocol letter arguing that a) demotion of tenancy would result in loss of home and so the client was within scope but also b) that even if the case was out of scope, the client met the conditions for exceptional case funding. The LAA agreed to grant exceptional case funding but did not provide reasons for its assertion that demotion of tenancy cases are outside scope.
We hope these examples are helpful to other practitioners and would be interested to hear from others about their successful applications (or should we say blow by blow accounts of their successful battles) and share them via the blog.