Successful challenge in the Supreme Court to the introduction of a Residence Test for legal aid
In 2013 the SLF grant funded Bindmans solicitors, working in partnership with Public Law Project (PLP), to carry out research into the impact the residence test would have on young migrants if introduced. This led to the challenge in the High Court which, in July 2014, ruled that the test was unlawful. Unfortunately this decision was later overturned by the Court of Appeal. An appeal was then lodged in the Supreme Count which has unanimously allowed the Public Law Project's challenge to the test, accepting their argument that the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act ("LASPO"), which introduced the 'residence test' for legal aid, did not give the Lord Chancellor the power to introduce regulations that would exclude a group of people from civil legal aid on the basis of 'residence.'
The "residence test" sought to exclude anyone from obtaining civil legal aid if they were unable to prove that they had built up 12 months lawful residence in the UK. This would have affected many different groups of migrants including those who did not have up to date documentation, migrants who had recently been awarded leave to remain, as well as those migrants who had been in the UK for some time and were awaiting a decision on their applications to remain. Had it been introduced the test, would have prevented young migrants and migrants with children from challenging potentially unlawful decisions to deny them housing, social services and support.
The full judgement from the Supreme Court can be found here
Further information on the judgement from PLP can be found here