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Legal Aid Agency settles the case on the correct application of legal aid statutory charges in damages cases and test cases

10 July 2018

Tim Baldwin

Tim Baldwin was instructed by Trevor Hatton of Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

Tim Baldwin represented the claimant where Legal Aid Agency has settled the case of Zewdu v Director of Legal Aid Casework CO/81/2018 (see previous news item here), which was listed for hearing on the 11th July 2018, by in effect providing a significant waiver of the legal aid statutory charge to be applied to the very significant award of damages in Hana Zewdu v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 2148 and the payment of the claimant’s costs.

The issue in the case is the interpretation of  “other claimants or potential claimants who might benefit from the proceedings” by the Legal Aid Agency in Regulation 47(2)(b) of the Community Legal Service (Financial) Regulations 2000 (under the Access to Justice Act 1999) and Regulation 9(1)(b) of the Civil Legal Aid (Statutory Charge) Regulations 2013 (under LASPO 2012) so as to engage the exercise of discretion to waive the statutory charge in cases identified as having significant wider public interest. This issue remains to be determined by the court. The Legal Aid Agency interprets this provision only to include claimants who have a case which is to be funded by legal aid or with an application for legal aid and for any claimant seeking the preference of a legal aid waiver to identify them. As the statutory charge can impact on an award of damages to a claimant it is important that the issue be resolved given that any claimant selected for public funding in a significant public interest case when the prospects of success of a case can be uncertain ought not to be disadvantaged when resolution of an important point of law by this mechanism often helps many vulnerable claimants especially in damages awards arising out of seminal judicial review claims.

Tim Baldwin is a member of the Administrative and Public Law Team at Garden Court Chambers. He was instructed by Trevor Hatton of the Public Law Team at Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

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