Duncan Lewis, one of the largest legal aid firms in the country, has been successful in its judicial review of the Legal Aid Agency’s (LAA’s) policy on backdating legal aid certificates.
The LAA had adopted a blanket policy of refusing to backdate certificates even in circumstances in which firms were forced to commence work on a case before making an application to secure access to justice. The lord chancellor, in an open letter, has agreed to amend the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 SI No 3098 to allow for the backdating of certificates.
Meanwhile, Liberty, the human rights charity, is bringing a judicial review against the LAA over its refusal to allow legal aid to challenge public spaces protection orders (PSPOs), many of which are used to ban rough sleeping. In a statement, Rosie Brighouse, lawyer for Liberty, said: ‘Many local authorities are criminalising those in need, but the [LAA’s] position robs all but the wealthy of their ability to challenge council abuse of power’ (‘Liberty to take Legal Aid Agency to court for refusing to help residents fight local council abuse of power
’, Liberty news release, 22 October 2018).
See page 13
of this issue for more on successful judicial reviews against the lord chancellor in 2018.