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Court of Appeal rules on scope of rights to legal aid in immigration cases


The Court of Appeal has today handed down its judgment in Gudanaviciene & Ors v Director of Legal Aid Casework and the Lord Chancellor.

The decision follows a four day hearing before the Master of the Rolls and Sullivan and Richards LJJ and concerns appeals from the decision of Collins J in six joined claims for judicial review relating to refusals to grant legal aid by way of ³exceptional case funding² (ECF) for the purposes of immigration proceedings. The Court considered the lawfulness of the decisions in these individual cases, as well as the correctness of guidance issued by the Lord Chancellor under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The Court¹s detailed judgment provides guidance across a number of areas, including the test which the Director of Legal Aid casework is to apply when considering whether to make ECF available and the circumstances in which Article 6 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 47 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights require the provision of legal aid in immigration cases.

In addition, the Court considered the stage at which individuals who claim to have be a victim of trafficking are entitled to legal aid, and whether applications for refugee family re-union are within scope for the purposes of LASPO.

The judgment is here.

Martin Chamberlain QC, Sarah Love and Malcolm Birdling appeared for the appellants, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor.

Paul Bowen QC appeared for the fourth and sixth respondents, instructed by the Islington Law Centre and ATLEU.