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Legal Aid

Infant School Special Needs Child refused Legal Aid

The Public Law Project and the Law Society have been granted permission by the High Court to challenge the Legal Aid Agency’s decision not to grant legal aid for a looked after, infant school child with special educational needs. 

The Child was refused exceptional case funding for an appeal to a special education needs and disability (SEND) tribunal.

The Law Society provided the child concerned with an indemnity against adverse costs which may be due in a Judicial Review case if the Judge orders it. 

If successful, this case has potential to widen the scope of legal aid for looked-after children with special educational needs.

A spokesperson from the Public Law Project stated that the Legal Aid had been refused for the appeal on means grounds, stating that the finances of the foster parents, who are also the child’s prospective adopters, should be assessed.   The Appellants argue that, for legal aid purposes, the prospective adopter’s role should be categorised as akin to that of a litigation friend (a helper/advocate), which would mean their means are not relevant.

There has been much in the press recently regarding Barristers campaigning for change and it would seem that this is just one barrier to securing legal aid funding making it more difficult for vulnerable people to challenge decisions that have a big impact on their life.

The Legal Aid Agency have stated that they are unable to give a comment whilst proceedings are ongoing.