Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

News

Business As Usual

Despite the Coronavirus lockdown, we are continuing with business as usual at CLP. Though we are not carrying out any office appointments, we are arranging telephone appointments with both existing and new clients. Please telephone our switchboard on 0121 685 8595. Please note that, during this emergency period, the switchboard will have slightly reduced hours and will be open between 9am and 5pm.

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.

Case Law on Compliance with Directions (Post Mitchell Update)

Following the case of Mitchell v News Group, the Courts have taken a very strict view indeed to failure to comply with Court directions. This appears to be loosening somewhat.

Firstly we would refer the reader to the article on the Nearly Legal Housing Law Website – This is what we always meant and especially the piece concerning the amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules on 5th June 2014 – see the article at:-

http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2014/05/this-is-what-we-always-meant/

The piece on Nearly Legal also refers to the Judgment of Jackson LJ (yes, that Jackson!) in Hallam Estates Limited v Baker [2014] EWCA Civ 661. In terms of the amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules, Rule 3.8 (4) will now read:-

(4) In the circumstances referred to in paragraph (3) and unless the Court orders otherwise, the time for doing the act in question may be extended by prior written agreement of the parties for up to a maximum of 28 days, provided always that any such extension does not put at risk any hearing date.

Kick In The Shins

R (Public Law Project) -v- The Secretary of State for Justice [2014] EWHC 2365 (Admin) 15 July 2014

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPOA) 2012 Part 1 Schedule 1 lists those areas of law that remain in scope for legal aid. The Lord Chancellor proposed by the LASPOA 2012 (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order 2104 (‘the Order’) to introduce a residence test. All those who failed the test would be removed from the scope of Part 1 Schedule 1.

Public Law Project (PLP) challenged the lawfulness of the Order. Moses J gave the leading judgment of a three judge court.