Who? Jon Wakefield, 50, litigation partner at East Midlands firm Bhatia Best.
Why is he in the news? He acted for his own firm in a High Court appeal against the Legal Aid Agency’s refusal to allow it legal aid funding to conduct homelessness cases.
Before 1 April 2013, when the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 was implemented, the firm’s public law contract entitled it to legal aid funding when acting for clients against homelessness decisions under section 204 of the Housing Act 1996.
LASPO changed the funding rules so that only firms with legal aid housing contracts could advise on homelessness. Public law practitioners could no longer do so because section 204 appeals do not fall within the category of public law.
The court, therefore, refused the firm’s claim.
Thoughts on the case: ‘Housing lawyers used to refer homelessness cases to us and we would help them out with our litigation and advocacy expertise. We were advised that we had a case for getting the court to reverse the funding changes, but our case was predicated on judicial review principles being applied to test whether our argument might win on a point of law.
‘The High Court ruled that judicial review principles were not mandated in this instance because LASPO clearly states that section 204 appeals do not qualify for legal aid under a public law contract.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘Having studied classics up to A-level, I decided it was time to reconnect with the 20th century and law seemed a good way to do it.’
Career high: ‘Every time I resolve a case for a client.’
Career low: ‘Witnessing the dismantling of legal aid. It is damaging ordinary people, careers and this firm – 50% of our work is criminal legal aid.’