*sm*Family Law - High Court (Administrative Court) - Legal Aid Agency Funding – Successful challenges to funding decision*em*
A successful judicial review of the Legal Aid Agency’s decision to refuse to pay the full costs of a parenting assessment within public law proceedings. Legal Aid Agency Decision was quashed. Legal Aid Agency’s refusal to grant prior authority for the required funds when a Judge had ordered the assessment necessary, without engaging with the Judge, was not reasonable. Held that:
The Legal Aid Agency is entitled to refuse an application for public funds if it finds that payment sought is excessive. However, it must act in a reasonable way.
Reference to the President's Guidance in A Local Authority v S & others  1 WLR 3098 and that it is for the Judge to give reason as to why an order is necessary and to consider the reasonableness of the funds sought.
Endorsement of the President's Guidance that the Legal Aid Agency must act promptly and provide reasons for its decisions. Although there is no statutory duty to provide reasons; the law has developed to require them where fairness so dictates.
The Legal Aid Agency's argument that it had insufficient resources to provide reasons was rejected.
The proposed expert must provide reasons for the proposed work in sufficient, but not extensive, detail.
A judge's decision is not binding but carries considerable weight. If the Legal Aid Agency has good reason to reject a prior authority application, it should engage with the Court in writing or on oral application.