Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

News

R (Ben Hoare Bell & Others) -v- The Lord Chancellor

R ( Ben Hoare Bell, Deighton Pierce Glynn, Mackintosh Law, Public Law Solicitors and Shelter) -v- The Lord Chancellor and the Director of Legal Aid Casework [2015] EWHC 523 (Admin)

In April 2014 the Government introduced Regulations which meant that, in certain circumstances, legal aid providers would not be paid for running a judicial review case. In this judgment, the High Court has found those Regulations to be unlawful.

Article 8 After A Possession Order Has Been Made

In R (JL) – v – Secretary of State for Defence [2012] EWCA Civ 449, the Court of Appeal upheld the Judge at first instance who had held that a proportionality argument could be raised at the enforcement stage of a possession order (i.e. after it had been made and when a writ or warrant to bailiffs to execute the order had been issued) although only in exceptional cases, otherwise it would be an abuse of the process of the court to do so.  Such a case could be where “there is a fundamental change in the occupants’ personal circumstances after the making of a possession order but before its enforcement” (para 41) or, as in this case, the state of the law at the time of the possession hearing was that the proportionality argument could not be made (para 42).  In the recent Court of Appeal Judgment in Lawal – v – Circle 33 Housing Trust Limited ([2014] EWCA Civ 1514), the Court of Appeal added a case where an Article 8 defence had been advanced before the first instance judge but she “either declined to hear it or peremptorily dismissed it but in either case, she gave no reasons for doing so” (para 90, Sir Terence Etherton LJ).

To read the Judgment in this case, see: http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/1514.html&query=Lawal+and+v+and+Circle+and+33&method=boolean

Much Too Exceptional Funding

The Court of Appeal in a case called R (Gudanaviciene and Others) -v- The Director of Legal Aid Casework and The Lord Chancellor has decided that the Lord Chancellor’s Guidance on Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) is unlawful.  The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPOA) 2012, section 10 provides for ECF for certain cases that would otherwise be outside scope for Legal Aid in order to avoid, amongst other things, a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a fair hearing).  The Gudanaviciene case involved five Claimants who had immigration cases and who were refused exceptional funding to assist them in the court action they were involved in.

To read full details of this case, click here.

COURT STATES MR PICKLES DISCRIMINATED AGAINST GYPSIES AND TRAVELLERS

Ms Moore and Ms Coates are Romani Gypsies who were seeking planning permission for single pitch sites for themselves and their families in the Green Belt. The local planning authorities ( London Borough of Bromley in Ms Moore’s case and Dartford Borough Council in Ms Coates’ case) refused them planning permission. They appealed to a Planning Inspector.  The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG), Mr Pickles, decided to recover their appeal cases to make the decisions himself because of certain Ministerial Statements that had been issued.  The reason given for these decisions to recover the cases were that the appeals involved “a traveller site in the Green Belt”.

Picklesgate

Well done to Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) who pursued a complaint to the Information Commissioner and eventually got the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to provide the information that the Ministerial Working Group on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers has not met at all since they published a ‘progress report’ in April 2012.   For full details, see the FFT website at:- http://www.gypsy-traveller.org/picklesgate-government-covers-roma-neglect/.

Lord Avebury, on the 11 November 2014, asked a question in Parliament about the Ministerial Working Group and received a response from Lord Ahmad.  You can find the question and response at:- http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2014-11-11a.36.0&s=speaker%3A12876#g36.1.  The “summary of progress” document that was deposited in the Library of the Houses of Parliament by Lord Ahmad is attached to this news article below.

Green Belt Cases

On 4th and 5th December 2014 the Judicial Reviews against the Green Belt planning appeal recovery process of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) on behalf of two of our Gypsy clients came to a final hearing. We were very pleased that the Equality and Human Rights Commission were given permission to intervene in our cases. The judgment is reserved and will be handed down in the New Year.

In another High Court case (not directly challenging the recovery process) a decision by the SSCLG which went against his Planning Inspector was overturned by the High Court – see O’Connor – v – SSCLG and Epping Forest District Council which is now available on the CLP website under Gypsy and Traveller cases.

No Mad Laws Campaign

This campaign consists of Gypsy and Traveller support groups and representatives and Gypsies and Travellers themselves who have joined together to highlight the disastrous effect that the Coalition Government’s legal aid and judicial review reforms will have upon Gypsies and Travellers.
Please sign our petition at: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-mad-laws

Legal Action Magazine have published an article about the campaign: http://www.lag.org.uk/magazine/2014/10/legal-aid-cuts-impact-statement.aspx

Redefining Travellers Out Of Existence

This is how Andrew George MP described the new Government consultation on ‘planning and travellers’ in the Sunday Times on 14 September: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/article1459044.ece The consultation can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-and-travellers-proposed-changes-to-planning-policy-and-guidance The deadline for responses is 23 November 2014.