There has been a very important judgment in an exceptional funding case.
CLP are sharing a stall at the Festival with Travellers Aid Trust and Friends, Families and Travellers. CLP will be represented this year by Holly Sherratt and Fiona McGilvray.
The Low Commission is an independent commission set up by the Legal Action Group to report into the question of access to justice especially in the light of the recent and ongoing Legal Aid reforms.
Ed Milliband, the Leader of the Opposition, has now lodged a motion to strike out the Civil Legal Aid Regulations. This will lead to a debate in the Commons.
Following their response to the consultation on judicial review, the Ministry of Justice have produced civil legal aid regulations to implement the proposed changes with regard to payment of legal aid in such cases. However we have noticed that the regulations do not replicate the MoJ’s proposals. We trust this is a mistake. Submissions on this need to be made by Tuesday March 18th and can be sent via Nicola Mackintosh of the Legal Aid Practitioners group: Nicola.Mackintosh@Macklaw.co.uk
The Government have released their response to the consultation Judicial Review : Proposals For Further Reform.
Amongst other things, the MoJ consultation Judicial review: proposals for further reform proposes the withdrawal of legal aid for appeals under sections 288 & 289 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. CLP put in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with regard to this. . We were not satisfied with the initial response and appealed that decision – see November E Bulletin ‘ Behind Closed Doors’ and the Travellers Times blog:
We have now had the response to that appeal which is reproduced here (see attachment to this article).
In terms of those areas that are out of scope for legal aid, the Government said people could try and get ‘exceptional funding’ under section 10 of the Legal Aid Act 2012 if otherwise there might be a breach of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a fair hearing). For example, housing benefit is now out of scope for legal aid but a housing benefit problem might be the reason for rent arrears that have led to a possession action.
This case concerns a planning appeal in the Court of Appeal (CoA).
The Claimant below (the respondent to this appeal), Charmaine Moore, is a single parent who owns the site she lives on. She lives there in a mobile home with her three children, aged 14, 13 and 7. She and her family are Romani Gypsies.
Before she moved to the appeal site in July 2010, the Claimant and her children had lived for some 12 years in a caravan situated on the front drive of a rented Housing Association property at Orpington. The house was used only as a day room and the family always slept in the caravan. The Claimant had “an aversion to living in bricks and mortar”.
The Low Commission are investigating the impact of the Legal Aid reforms and making suggestions as to future strategy for legal advice. Lord Low and two members of the Commission, Steve Hynes and Vicky Ling, visited CLP on Thursday 29 August 2013 and met with the three Partners and Craig Keenan from the Housing Team. CLP made a number of suggestions as to how things might be improved and all parties agreed that the meeting was very useful. CLP’s letter to Lord Low is attached to this article along with its enclosure.
The draft report from the Low Commission which is currently out for further consultation until 30 September can be accessed at http://www.lowcommission.org.uk/Can-you-help