The government is facing legal action over a failure to provide free legal advice and representation through Legal Aid to people seeking asylum in the UK.
The Public Law Project (PLP) has released a report, in collaboration with Haringey Migrant Support Centre, on the lack of access to legal aid in 2023. As a result of the problems identified by the report, the PLP took the first step in bringing the legal proceedings against the Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk KC.
For more information about what Legal Aid is, you can read our Toolkit page here.
The report shows that the advice sector has collapsed and individuals who desperately need legal aid are finding themselves “adrift in an ocean of unmet need”. The report also highlights the fact that immigration and asylum legal aid is not sustained by legal aid fees, leaving providers to rely on mixed funding. Furthermore, the PLP and Haringey MSC found that 66% of the UK does not have access to immigration or asylum legal aid in their local authority area, due to complicated bureaucracy and low funding.
The PLP have argued that the Lord Chancellor is in breach of his duty to make legal aid available for immigration and asylum related issues. They claim that access to legal aid is so poor that people are being denied access to justice as a result.
Daniel Rourke, the lead lawyer for the PLP, said: “We are compelled to bring our research to the Lord Chancellor’s attention and demand that he takes urgent action. We will reluctantly prepare legal proceedings if he continues to breach his statutory and constitutional duties.”
Right to Remain thanks the Public Law Project and Haringey Migrant Support Centre for providing vital insight into the current and ongoing legal aid crisis. We support the legal action against the Home Office’s failure to provide legal aid to people seeking asylum.
The legal aid crisis is a gap we are trying to fill with our work on our Toolkit and our workshops. We want to ensure that people in the system are able to be supported through the system regardless of whether they have legal representation, so we encourage people within and without the system to increase their knowledge. Even without representation, it is possible to successfully represent yourself, even after a refusal, without a lawyer present provided you have the correct information.
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