The CW4 Appeals Project is a new project focusing on immigration and asylum legal aid cases where legal aid is withdrawn on the basis of the merits test.
What is a merits test?
Legal aid helps people with no or little income to pay for the cost of getting legal advice. The government allocates funds for this purpose, and the legal aid fees are paid directly to the legal advice provider.
This is now mostly only asylum cases, because the government has cut legal aid to non-asylum immigration cases in England and Wales.
Most people who are seeking asylum and who do not have the financial means to pay for a lawyer are able to get a legal aid lawyer to represent them.
After a Home Office refusal of an asylum case, however, legal aid lawyers have to do a “merits test” to say whether they think the case has a 50% chance of succeeding on appeal at the First-tier Tribunal.
If they think the case does have 50% chance of succeeding, they can continue with the case under legal aid, in what is called the “Controlled Legal Representation stage”.
What is CW4?
If the legal aid lawyer does not think the case has a 50% chance of succeeding on appeal, the lawyer has to fill out a form called a “CW4 form”, which gives their reasons for not carrying on with the case. This form should be given to the client, and they should also be advised of their right to have the decision reviewed. At this point, legal aid is considered to have been “withdrawn”.
What is the project doing?
This is a new project (currently running till March 2020 but maybe longer), which will look at cases referred to it and review whether they think the decision to withdraw legal aid (to fail the case on a merits test) was wrong. If appropriate, they will appeal the decision to withdraw legal aid to an Independent Funding Adjudicator.
If an appeal of the legal aid decision to the Independent Funding Adjudicator is successful, the project will attempt to refer the client to a new legal representative, if needed.
Note – the project is focusing on appealing the legal aid decision, not the Home Office decision to refuse a claim/application.
Find out more about the project and refer a case (which could include your own) here.
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