The challenge and why it is being brought
Duncan Lewis filed a judicial review claim in the Administrative Court to challenge the failure of the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) to backdate funding for urgent work properly undertaken. The LAA granted funding on 14 September 2017, which was made available from that date, but the LAA failed to backdate that funding to extend from the date of the initial application made on 12 September 2017.
This challenge is being brought as the current regime for emergency legal aid funding creates the unacceptable risks that vulnerable individuals in need of immediate representation may be denied access to justice, and law firms providing legal aid representation may not undertake urgent work on behalf of their clients if funding cannot be backdated. The outcome of the challenge is likely to have implications for other vulnerable clients facing removal and for legal aid firms which represent them.
The governing instruments are the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) and the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 (the Regulations).
The LAA contends that it is prohibited by the Regulations to make legal aid payments prior to the date on which it has made a formal determination. The Claimants submit that: