Following the successful challenge in R (Duncan Lewis Solicitors Ltd) v Director of Legal Aid Casework and the Lord Chancellor in October 2018, the LAA has announced that it will get new powers to backdate funding under legal aid certificates in urgent cases from 20 February 2019. The challenge was to a refusal by the LAA to backdate funding in an urgent immigration judicial review case to the date of the application where legal action had to be taken very quickly, even though the solicitors had made the application as promptly as possible.
The backdating power is likely to benefit clients needing to challenge decisions by public authorities where delegated functions are not available. However, the LAA will provide more guidance in due course before the new power comes into effect.
The amendments to the Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 which will bring this change into force can be found here.
The LAA will be closing its ‘out of hours’ service as a result of this new power. It has stressed that this change will not affect delegated functions which will remain available where appropriate. There is more information here.
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) published updated guidance on who qualifies for civil legal aid on its website last week (11 January 2019).
Resources available on the site include guides to scope, merits and means, as well as links to the relevant regulations. The civil legal aid calculator tool has links to the relevant forms. The LAA is encouraging practitioners to use the online calculator rather undertaking manual calculations.
Other information available via links on the LAA site include further useful statutory instruments, clarification on immigration funding for trafficking cases and leaflets aimed at advice providers.
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