High Court to rule on the correct application of legal aid statutory charges in damages cases and test cases

Friday 25 May 2018

Tim Baldwin is representing the claimant in the case of Zewdu v Director of Casework CO/81/2018, where DHJ Kate Markus QC granted permission to judicially review the Legal Aid Agency’s decision to apply a legal aid statutory charge to the damages obtained. The full hearing of the claim is listed to be heard on 11 July 2018.

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This claim follows on from the lead case of Hana Zewdu v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 2148 (Admin) which resulted in the Home Office having to pay a record sum in damages of £40,000 to the claimant for the loss she suffered as a direct result of their unlawful delay in issuing documentation, confirming her right to reside and work in the UK. The Home Secretary conceded that the Home Office was liable to pay damages for their delay in issuing a Certificate of Entitlement and thereafter, a Residence Card. This established for the first time that the Home Office is liable to pay damages to anyone who experiences unlawful delay in receiving EU documentation confirming their right to reside in the UK.

Hana Zewdu v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 2148 was funded by the Legal Services Commission (now the Legal Aid Agency) who are currently seeking to apply the legal aid statutory charge to these damages, even though it was designated as a “test case” by the Legal Services Commission. This raised an important point of law applicable to a large number of EU citizens that required resolution by the courts in order to justify funding of the original claim.

Zewdu v Director of Casework  will provide clear guidance as to the correct application of the regulations, practice, policy and procedures on the application of the statutory charge in damages cases and test cases and how to challenge such decisions.

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

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