The Court of Appeal has unanimously reversed the ruling of a three-judge Divisional Court that the decision to introduce a residence test for civil legal aid is unlawful.
The Court of Appeal held that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 did give power to allow the introduction of a residence test, and that the Divisional Court had been wrong to find that the residence test was ultra vires the Act. The Court of Appeal also held that the Divisional Court had been wrong to find that the test was unlawfully discriminatory, on the basis that the applicable test for justification in this context was whether the proposed measure was “manifestly without reasonable foundation”, which threshold the residence test proposal overcame. Lord Justice Laws gave the sole reasoned judgment (Kitchin and Christopher Clarke LJJ agreeing).
The full judgment can be read here:
James Eadie QC and David Lowe acted for the Appellant (Defendant).
Michael Fordham QC, Ben Jaffey and Naina Patel acted for the Respondent (Claimant).