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The Judgment is in: Unaccompanied Minors are now eligible for Legal Aid (19 July 2018)

Date: 19/07/2018
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, The Judgment is in: Unaccompanied Minors are now eligible for Legal Aid

Just as the Law Society brings a challenge against the government for cuts to criminal defence work under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 at the High Court, in another judicial review, the challenge is over. Legal aid is to be restored for unaccompanied minors and separated children following the judicial review brought by The Children’s Society in their five year campaign.

It has come as welcome news to all that vulnerable minor migrants and children separated from their parents or carers will be afforded legal aid to give them access to the essential legal support they need.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, Lord Richard Keen, made this announcement:

'Following a judicial review brought by the Children’s Society … I have decided to bring these cases [brought by unaccompanied minors] into the scope of legal aid to ensure access to justice.’

The children living in limbo have been living in fear, as many have been seen as easy targets for traffickers. This news comes as a long needed change to the way the government treats child migrants since cuts began in 2013. Not to mention, immigration fees continue to increase at an inordinate rate, leaving many unable to afford to apply for UK status.

As part of the five year campaign by The Children’s Society they estimated that approximately 15,000 migrant children in the UK have not been given access to legal aid since the cuts began.

Labour Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon, reminds that the “hostile environment” policy is exactly that which has put so many unaccompanied minors in this position to date. He suggests that it was only due to the relentless campaign that the government was forced to bring child migrants and separated children back into scope of legal aid.

A number of these young migrants have been housed in temporary accommodation, either by their local authority or in the care of extended family members. In more extreme cases, these children are left without protection from being forced into trafficking or slavery. For these child migrants, alone in the UK, legal aid will allow them to access the support they so desperately need.

Toufique Hossain, a Director and solicitor of Immigration and Public Law at Duncan Lewis, is an avid campaigner for access to justice for the most vulnerable in our society. As a legal aid lawyer he is an advocate of human rights, speaking out on the media. His appearances bring attention to the crucial role of legal aid law in holding the executive to account and in providing justice for those most in need.

He states:

“We welcome this decision and congratulate everyone involved in bringing about this change. The damage caused to so many children prior to this amendment is unfathomable. The fight continues however, as many other vulnerable groups cannot access legal aid and focus must now shift to helping them.”

Toufique’s practice focuses on public law cases involving judicial review, unlawful detention cases and matters before the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. He is recognised by both Chambers 2018 and Legal 500 2017 as a leader in his field with "excellent knowledge of immigration law". He is praised by Chambers for being a "fearless litigator", whilst Legal 500 2017 recognises that Toufique has ‘an amazing ability to conduct a wide range of demanding test case litigation,’ specialising in costs litigation, Dublin III third-country removals and protection cases including appeals to the Tribunal and Court of Appeal.

To contact Toufique, call 020 3114 1128 or email him on toufiqueh@duncanlewis.com.

Duncan Lewis Immigration Solicitors – Unaccompanied Minors

Duncan Lewis' Immigration team holds exclusive legal aid contracts to represent vulnerable clients/ victim of torture or trafficking in immigration detention related matters; detained asylum casework and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

We have a dedicated team that advises and assist unaccompanied asylum seeking children and a considerable referral base with Social Services throughout Greater London. We have extensive experience in challenging UK Border Agency’s decision on age assessment to the Higher Courts.

The department also holds a niche practice representing judicial review immigration claimant cases before the High Court with a significant practice in Upper Tribunal and Court of Appeal matters, unlawful immigration detention with high net claims for damages and challenging immigration removals; in particular, Dublin III third country removal cases.

For expert advice on do not hesitate to contact our Immigration team on 033 3772 0409.

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