Regina (S) v Director of Legal Aid Casework – WLR Daily

Posted June 3rd, 2016 in law reports, legal aid, litigants in person by sally

Regina (S) v Director of Legal Aid Casework [2016] EWCA Civ 464

‘The claimant, a Nigerian national who lacked capacity to engage in litigation, applied for exceptional case funding pursuant to section 10 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 to assist him in making representations to the Home Office to recognise his position in the United Kingdom. The Director of Legal Aid Casework refused his application but the claimant was subsequently granted funding after he successfully claimed judicial review of the refusal on the ground that the guidance issued by the Lord Chancellor and applied by the Director was unlawful. Notwithstanding that grant, the claimant’s remaining challenge to the manner in which the exceptional case funding scheme was operated, which raised important issues of wider application, proceeded effectively as a test case. The claimant’s case was that the operation of the scheme created an unacceptable risk that individuals would be unable to make an effective application under the scheme and would therefore suffer a breach of their Convention rights or European Union rights. The judge allowed the claim, holding that (i) the manner in which the exceptional case funding scheme was operated meant that in practice the safety net intended to be provided by section 10 to enable individuals who would not otherwise qualify for legal aid funding to present their cases effectively without obvious unfairness was not being provided and (ii) the requirement in regulations 5 and 43 of the Civil Legal Aid (Merits Criteria) Regulations 2013 that cases had to demonstrate an even or better than even prospect of success was unreasonable and the method of rating prospects of success was itself unsatisfactory. Accordingly he granted declarations that the exceptional case funding scheme, the 2013 Regulations and the guidance were unlawful.’

WLR Daily, 20th May 2016