Supreme Court to hear two challenges on access to justice

Topics: Costs, fees and funding,Employment,Legal aid and access to justice,Courts business

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The Supreme Court is to hear two cases with far-reaching consequences for access to justice.

The court announced this morning that it has granted permission to appeal decisions in judicial review cases regarding employment tribunal fees and the residency test for legal aid.

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In August, trade union Unison failed in its challenge to the government’s employment tribunal fee regime.

The Court of Appeal ruled it could not be inferred that a drop in the number of employment claims was entirely down to potential claimants' inability to afford fees.

Three months later the Court of Appeal ruled that government plans to introduce a residence test for civil legal aid eligibility were lawful.

The lord chancellor had appealed the High Court’s decision the previous year that the legislation he proposed to introduce was unlawful on the grounds it was ultra vires and unjustifiably discriminatory.

To satisfy the residence test, an individual would need to be lawfully resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or a British overseas territory on the day of the application for civil legal aid.

Unless they were under 12 months old or a particular kind of asylum claimant, or involved with the UK armed forces, applicants would have had to be lawfully resident for a 12-month period.

The Supreme Court said R (on the application of UNISON) v The Lord Chancellor and R (on the application of the Public Law Project) v The Lord Chancellor ‘will be listed to be heard in due course’.

Readers' comments (4)

  • "..The Court of Appeal ruled it could not be inferred that a drop in the number of employment claims was entirely down to potential claimants' inability to afford fees. "

    That must be the case surely? Who do you correlate the two issues?

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  • Raynor-- are you after Crawford's crown for the most annoying poster?

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  • Why do you say that?

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  • And who are you, who says that?

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