The High Court has turned down a public funding challenge from a litigant in person who believed a government body was acting against him.
In Ezeugo, R v Director of Legal Aid Casework, Mrs Justice McGowan said the Legal Aid Agency had acted properly in deciding not to allocate £420,000 without an initial assessment of the case.
The claimant, who wants to mount a claim against the Metropolitan Police and has been pursuing legal action for seven years, contended the LAA’s decisions were informed by a ‘hostile intent’ to him and his case. He further alleged a conspiracy existed between the agency and the Met Police.
McGowan said: ‘There is much evidence to the contrary and I do not find that the claimant has raised evidence capable of proving any such hostile intent. Given that I find that there has not been any public law decision capable of review by this court, the issue of hostile intent does not need to be investigated any further here.’
The court heard that the claimant has been represented by a series of law firms during the litigation, with a number of legal aid certificates granted to those solicitors and costs limits, on occasion, varied upwards.
Having dispensed with the services of London firm Kaim Todner, the claimant then wished to instruct Birmingham firm Salhan & Co, who indicated his case had a 60-80% chance of success.
The firm estimated that costs up to trial would be £420,000 based on 1,152 hours of work, but said that without funding it would not be able to provide advice on the merits of the case.
The LAA informed the firm in December it would not be possible to complete the transfer of the legal aid certificate to them without the provision of an analysis of the merits of the case, prompting the firm to stop acting for the claimant.
McGown found that no LAA decision was worthy of review, and said in any case that the claim would be ‘premature’ as the claimant had yet to take his complaint to an independent adjudicator.