Tag Archives: exceptional funding

Court orders funding for litigant ineligible for legal aid

In what appears to be the first order made under what we called the “shadow legal aid scheme” mooted in Sir James Munby P’s judgment in Q v Q, HHJ Bellamy (sitting as a High Court Judge) has made an order that the Court Service fund an unrepresented father who would otherwise have to cross-examine a child who has made allegations of abuse at a fact finding hearing – K & H (Children: Unrepresented Father: Cross-Examination of Child) [2015] EWFC 1. In discussing Q v Q and making his order, HHJ Bellamy set out what he considered to be the principles to be applied, thus (para 74):

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Filed under Civil, Family, Policy

Court of Appeal finds exceptional funding guidance to be unlawful

In Gudanaviciene & Ors, R (on the application of) v The Director of Legal Aid Casework & Ors [2014] EWCA Civ 1622, the Court of Appeal considered the Lord Chancellor’s appeal against the High Court’s earlier decision that the exceptional funding guidance was unlawful, and that refugee family reunion was in scope of Schedule 1 of LASPO.

The Court of Appeal refused to follow the approach of the High Court either in Gudanaviciene or the earlier cases of M v Director of Legal Aid Casework [2014] in construing s10 of LASPO (the section dealing with exceptional cases. Lord Dyson MR, giving the judgment of the Court, set out the test to be applied thus:

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Filed under Civil, Immigration, LASPO, Policy

Exceptional funding grant – injunction brought by local authority

Our thanks to Garden Court North for drawing this case to our attention. The LAA has recently granted exceptional funding for an application to set aside an injunction banning persons unknown from begging in Leeds city centre. GCN’s website reports:

Exceptional case funding has been granted by the Legal Aid Agency to apply to set aside Leeds City Council’s injunction obtained under S222 Local Government Act 1972 against persons unknown on behalf of a man who it has been sought to commit to prison.

Leeds City Council obtained the injunction / restraining order from “begging” in Leeds City centre against “persons unknown”, even though a number of the alleged beggars, including our client, are known to Leeds City Council.  Our client was then served with the injunction after it had been obtained despite being later described in Leeds City Council’s own evidence as a known and prolific beggar.

The committal has been adjourned pending this application to set aside and will be challenged on the basis that:

– The Court did not have power to make it as there are statutory remedies that should have been used.

– It was an abuse of process not to name those it knew and alleged to be begging.

– In any event the criteria for an injunction restraining a criminal offence or public nuisance are not met and the injunction fails to consider the personal circumstances of the individuals concerned and subverts the prohibition on the making of bye-laws without the permission of the Secretary of State.

After a lengthy struggle to obtain funding, exceptional funding was granted (on 5th November 2014) to challenge the injunction itself.

James Stark and Joe Markus of GCN are instructed by Rhiannon Jones of Lester Morrill Solicitors .

As always, we would be pleased to hear of other grants of exceptional funding, and to publicise them for the benefit of others making similar applications.

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LASPO Impacts

The Commons Justice Committee is holding an enquiry into the impact of LASPO. It took oral evidence earlier this week on housing, immigration and family cases – you can read the transcript here (and see here Nearly Legal’s take on the kind offer of one MP on the committee).

Meanwhile, the written evidence submitted to the enquiry is also available; it makes interesting, if depressing, reading.

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Lord Chancellor’s Guidance published

The old legal aid scheme had the Funding Code, which practitioners would use to check the availability of civil legal aid, together with the applicable merits tests and guidance. Once the LASPO scheme starts, the Funding Code will go. In its place will be regulations and guidance.

We have already had the Civil Legal Aid (Merits Criteria) Regulations 2013 (which replace the Funding Code Criteria) and the Civil Legal Aid (Procedures) Regulations 2012, which replace the Funding Code Procedures – links to both on our LASPO Resources page – and now the LSC has published the Lord Chancellor’s Guidance, which replaces the Funding Code Guidance.

It is in three parts – general guidance for in-scope cases, guidance for exceptional funding for inquests, and guidance for exceptional funding for out of scope (non-inquest) cases.

The key document for civil legal aid practitioners is the general guidance. Chapters 1-8 deal with matters common to all cases, chapter 9 with mental health, chapter 10 with family, chapter 11 with human rights issues and chapter 12 with housing disrepair.

 

 

For more on the new legal aid scheme, see our LASPO Resources page, follow us on Twitter @legalaidhbk or pre-order the new Handbook by emailing direct.orders@marston.co.uk

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