IMPORTANT JUDGMENT ON LEGAL AID AND INQUESTS: EXCEPTIONAL FUNDING GUIDANCE FOR INQUESTS IS WRONG

Bindmans website has a summary of an important judgment in the case of R(Joanna Letts) -v- Lord Chancellor.

The judge found that there were material errors in the Guidance given in relation to funding for representation for inquests.

KEY POINTS OF JUDGMENT

“For the reasons that I have set out above in my judgment this [the Lord Chancellor’s Exceptional Funding Guidance” ] contains a number of errors.

95. First, the Guidance indicates that there is but one trigger for Article 2, namely evidence of arguable breach by the State: See, e.g. para [54(iv)] above. This is incorrect in that case law identifies a variety of circumstances and types of case of real public importance and significance where the duty arises independently of the existence of evidence of arguable breach.

96. Secondly, where the Guidance refers to case types where the test may be modified (for example in the case of death in custody) it persists in articulating the test upon the basis of arguability of breach. Since these case types include cases where the law now makes clear that the duty can arise automatically the reference to the arguability test is wrong in law: See para [54(vii)] above.

97. Thirdly, and related to the first two errors, is the failure even at a broad level to acknowledge the existence of cases where the test is other than arguability.”

The judgment is available on the website.

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