The safety net to ensure that vulnerable claimants are provided with legal aid and access to justice does not work, the high court has ruled.
The Legal Aid Agency’s exceptional case funding scheme is “not in accordance with the law” and must be altered, Mr Justice Collins declared.Legal aid fees to be cut by 8.75%, confirms Ministry of Justice
His ruling, in a test case originally brought on behalf of a blind man who has cognitive impairments, follows widespread complaints from lawyers about difficulties in operating the last-resort funding mechanism.
The Ministry of Justice said it would appeal against the decision. Labour’s justice spokesman, Andy Slaughter, called on the justice secretary, Michael Gove, to conduct an emergency review of the legislation.“I am satisfied,” Collins said in his ruling, “that the scheme as operated is not providing the safety net promised by ministers and is not in accordance with section 10 [of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012] in that it does not ensure the applicants’ human rights are not breached or are not likely to be breached.”