Delay in obtaining Legal Aid “not complete answer” to failure to comply

15 December 2015

A recent Court of Appeal decision, R (on the application of) Kigen and Anor  v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWCA Civ 1286 has ruled that “it [is] no longer appropriate to treat delay in obtaining Legal Aid as a complete answer to a failure to comply with procedural requirements”. Garden Court North Chambers’ Gary Willock considers the decision.

This decision is worth reading in full although the central point is set out below:

[20] “…solicitors in general may have been under the impression that any delay awaiting a decision by the Legal Aid Agency would simply be ignored if an extension of time were required as a result. That is not the case and it is to be hoped that any such misunderstanding will have been dispelled as a result of the decision in this case. Those acting for parties in the position of these appellants will in future need to take steps either to lodge the necessary form promptly on behalf of their clients or to advise them of the need to do so on their own behalf.

This case is of relevance to civil practitioners working in Legal Aid who may be arguing delays with the LAA as justification for the court to exercise its discretion in relation to failure to comply with court deadlines.

Gary Willock is a barrister at Garden Court North Chambers.

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