The High Court has rejected a bid to allow collapsed immigration advice charity Refugee and Migrant Justice to carry on representing its clients until their cases are transferred to other firms.
Eight clients of RMJ, which went into administration last month, had sought a judicial review of the Legal Services Commission’s decision to terminate RMJ’s contract without adequate steps being taken to ensure their continued representation.
But Mr Justice Mitting said last week that there was nothing ‘unlawful or irrational’ in the transfer arrangements made by the LSC.
He said the provision made by the LSC for RMJ clients to be transferred to new providers within six weeks were the ‘best practical arrangements’.
The clients had also argued that the Home Office should have undertaken not to make any adverse decisions in cases that had been dealt with by RMJ until alternative representation had been secured.
The Home Office did no go as far as giving a moratorium on adverse decisions, but said it would deal with matters on a case-by-case basis and ensure former RMJ clients were not disadvantaged.
Mitting said this was sufficient, although he left it open to allow clients to return to court if the guidance was not followed in practice.
Mark Scott, partner at London firm Bhatt Murphy who represented the group, said: ‘We wanted to ensure RMJ clients weren’t left unrepresented and to make sure there was either an immediate transfer to other providers or a transitional plan put in place.’
He said prior to the court proceedings the Home Office had not issued any guidance on how it would deal with RMJ clients, and the LSC had issued guidance, that it subsequently withdrew, limiting those cases that could be transferred to other providers, which would have left clients unrepresented.
Scott said the clients were now considering their position.
An MoJ spokesman said: ‘Our priority is the welfare of RMJ’s clients. The LSC is working closely with the administrator and others to ensure urgent arrangements are in place to maintain a good, quality service, especially in cases needing prompt advice, for example clients held in detention.’