The case was initially brought by the Official Solicitor on behalf of a Claimant who is blind, has profound cognitive impairments, lacks litigation capacity and is unable to care for himself. An application for funding to enable the Claimant to apply to the Home Office to regularise his immigration position and thereby qualify for mainstream community care and health services had repeatedly been refused by the Direction of Legal Aid Casework.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Collins found that the exceptional case funding scheme was not operating lawfully and was deficient in various aspects including:
The complexity of the application procedure (para 105)
The rigidity of the merits test and the manner of its application (para 106)
The failure of the scheme to provide the safety net promised by Ministers and that it is not therefore ensuring that Applicants’ human rights are not breached (para 107)
In response to the judgement the Lord Chancellor has issue a Notice to the Director, reminding caseworkers to have regard to it.
It is clear that significant changes to the operation of the scheme will be required in the light of Mr Justice Collins’ judgement and that this case will have profound implications for access to justice.