Successful challenge to introduction of a Residence Test for Legal Aid

On the 15th of July 2014, the high court delivered its judgment which ruled that the Government's proposals to introduce a "residence test" to those applying for civil legal aid were unlawful.

The SLF grant funded Bindmans solicitors, working in partnership with Public Law Project (PLP), to carry out research into the impact the test would have on young migrants if introduced and to help identify legal arguments.

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 a lot of people: those who did not have the necessary documentation, migrants who had only recently got 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, amongst other things, would have prevented young migrants and migrants with children from challenging potentially unlawful decisions to deny them housing, social services and support.

In reaching its judgment the court noted that the residence test amounted to unlawful discrimination and that the test was inconsistent with the Government's intentions to prioritise legal aid for cases in greatest need. The court also restated the 'proud principle that all those subject to English law are equal before it, whether they are British nationals or not'. To read the full judgement click here

To read further information about the work carried out by PLP click here


If you have any queries about the Strategic Legal Fund, please contact or call 0207 251 8383.

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