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Legal aid lawyers sue government over coronavirus appeal payments

Legal aid lawyers sue government over coronavirus appeal payments

Furious legal aid lawyers have taken their dispute with the Ministry of Justice to the next level with a judicial review aimed at reversing forthcoming changes. Duncan Lewis Solicitors have sent a letter before action challenging the payment structure for remote immigration appeals during the pandemic.

A new system for reimbursing lawyers for remote immigration and asylum appeals comes into force on 8 June. Although it is only supposed to last for one year, as a temporary coronavirus measure, a host of representative groups say that’s long enough to do irreparable harm to legal aid firms.

The letter before action says:

Without consultation, or any apparent evidence base, the amendment increases the likelihood that legal aid providers will be undercompensated for their work and places access to justice at risk.

The legal action challenges the alleged lack of consultation before making the regulations in question, as well as the ministry’s “failure to make reasonable inquiries as to the likely effects of the Amendment on the availability and quality of legally aided representation”.

A spokesperson for the Immigration Law Practitioners Association said: “we are very pleased that Duncan Lewis is bringing this important challenge. We have helped out at pre action stage by providing some background information on the work that we have been doing, and we will continue to support this litigation in any way that we can”.

The firm has instructed Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers, and Chris Buttler and Eleanor Mitchell of Matrix.

CJ McKinney is Free Movement's editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering pitches. CJ is an adviser on legal and policy matters to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, and keeps up with the wider legal world as a contributor to Legal Cheek. Twitter: @mckinneytweets.