Judicial Review: Legal Aid Costs Case Study

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ARC Costs were recently instructed to assist on a Very High Costs Case in relation to a Judicial Review in which Legal Aid funding was obtained.

The case involved the representation of two Claimants in Judicial Review Proceedings issued against the Defendant, The Secretary of State for the Home Department.

The Defendant determined that the Claimants were potential victims of modern slavery and the Judicial Review claim itself was made to challenge the Defendant’s decision to disqualify them from the protection and recovery support for potential victims of modern slavery and to detain them, even though it was assessed that they would be harmed by detention.

 

Judicial Review and Legal Aid

Public law principles guarantee that public entities fulfil their legal obligations, refrain from exploiting their authority, and operate in harmony with the human rights of individuals impacted by their conduct.

Judicial Review is a legal process that allows individuals and organisations to challenge potentially unlawful decisions and actions of public authorities, such as government departments, local councils, and other public bodies.

You must have grounds to bring a Judicial Review. Judicial review is typically based on the following grounds:

  • Illegality: The decision or action was taken without legal authority, was ultra vires (beyond the authority), or violated a legal principle.
  • Irrationality: The decision is so unreasonable that no reasonable authority would have made it (also known as Wednesbury unreasonableness).
  • Procedural impropriety: The decision-making process was flawed, such as a failure to follow proper procedures or a breach of natural justice.
  • Breach of human rights: The decision infringes on the rights protected by the Human Rights Act or the European Convention on Human Rights.

There are specific time limits for making a Judicial Review claim. These time limits will depend on the nature of the decision or action being challenged and whether the Claimant is applying for permission to bring the claim.

Claimants in Judicial Review cases may apply for Legal Aid which is made available and provided to individuals who meet a specific threshold.

 

Judicial Review Legal Aid Case Study

As mentioned previously, ARC Costs were instructed to assist with the recovery of Judicial Review Legal Aid costs for a case which involved the representation of two Claimants in Judicial Review Proceedings.

Both cases were managed together and funded under two Legal Aid Certificated with a combined costs limitation of £30,000.

Both Claimants were victims of trafficking and were challenging the Home Secretary’s decision to detain them, despite there being a rule under the National Referral Mechanism that disallows the detainment of victims of slavery or trafficking.

The Claimants’ application for permission to apply for Judicial Review had been granted; and the Final Hearing for the claims was listed to proceed imminently, the costs of which would significantly exceed £25,000 per certificate, thereby requiring an hourly rates case plan to be prepared.

100% enhancement was claimed for all non-routine work in the proceedings, the reason for this being that this was a high importance and complex case that involved the unlawful detention of two vulnerable men, who were identified as victims of modern slavery and trafficking.

Furthermore, the proceedings all take place in the High Courts. The nature of trafficking included sexual exploitation and drugs, and the Clients were also forced into physical labour. In addition to this, both Claimants were foreign nationals which introduced additional elements of client care required, given that English was not their first language.

The overall combined costs for the case amounted to approximately £85,000.

 

Recovery of Judicial Review Legal Aid costs

In the majority of publicly funded Judicial Review cases, the Solicitor will be required to recover their profit costs and disbursements from the Legal Aid Agency. In some matters, an inter-partes order, for “costs to be assessed” instead. 

If costs are required to be recovered from the Legal Aid Agency, costs will need to be submitted via the Legal Aid CCMS System.

Solicitors must quantify their costs and submit either a Payments on Account (POAs) or an interim or final bill for aspects of work completed.

It is important to note that the LAA has specific rules you must follow when submitting your invoices, and our Costs Draftsmen can assist you with this to ensure everything is submitted correctly.

Our legal aid experts regularly use the CCMS system to submit legal aid costs claims and deal with all the administration on behalf of our clients and to free up the time of fee earners, thereby ensuring you can recover your maximum legal aid fees in an expeditious and efficient manner.

 

How can ARC Costs Assist?

Our team of experienced Legal Aid Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers at ARC Costs regularly assist in all types of legal aid costs claims, including Judicial Review claims. We work with both law firms and Litigants in Person with their costs recovery from the LAA.

Through our specialised cost assessment service, we assist clients in optimising their reclaimed legal expenses, all the while delivering proficient legal guidance and lessening the possibility of denied claims by the Legal Aid Agency.

To find out more about how we can provide you with assistance, please get in touch with us at 01204 397302 or email our team of experts at info@arccosts.co.uk. Alternatively, please use our free chat facility to speak to an expert directly.

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