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Court of Appeal overturns High Court ruling on civil legal aid residence test

Public Law Project seeks leave to appeal to the Supreme Court

The Court of Appeal has found that the Government's introduction of the controversial 'residence test' for legal aid, was lawful. This overturns a Divisional Court judgment of July 2014, which found the introduction of the test to be discriminatory and unlawful.

The Court of Appeal held that the Lord Chancellor did have power under LASPO to introduce the test by way of secondary legislation and that while withholding legal aid from particular groups may be discriminatory, it could be justified.

Both courts were presided over by a panel of three judges and have considered very different aspects of the case, and come to very different conclusions.

The Law Society has expressed disappointment at the decision and in addition that the Court of Appeal did not consider the likely impact of the residence test on the continuing viability of civil legal aid provision, as it is likely that providers will need to require all clients to provide the necessary evidence to establish that they are eligible for legal aid on the basis of residence.

Public Law Project, the claimant in this case, is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeal judgment is here.