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May 2015

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Legal Action

if you have a message regarding the magazine, please contact the editor Louise Heath at  lag@lag.org.uk.

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LAG is currently reviewing how we publish Legal Action online. As part of this process we have decided to discontinue the practice of posting a pdf version of the journal. As an interim measure we will continue to publish the digital version of articles and these will continue to be accessible to current subscribers for no charge.

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Tribunals adjudicate in a range of private and public law matters. They tend to operate with greater flexibility in their procedures than courts and are generally created by statute to provide an accessible service to resolve disputes. The numbers of cases before tribunals have been falling. LAG fears that an otherwise successful system for upholding civil legal rights is being undermined by policy changes which are increasing injustice.

News

The public rank the right to access to justice on a par with access to free health care, according to the results of a survey published by the Criminal Law Solicitors Association (CLSA).

News

The judging panel for the 2015 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards is due to decide this year’s shortlist later this month, following the close of nominations at the end of April.

Cover story

‘False promises mean false economies’

May, 2015 by Catherine Baksi

Exceptional case funding was touted as a safety net which would protect vulnerable clients. What has emerged in practice is very different. Even the most disabled and disadvantaged are being refused help on the grounds that they can represent themselves, leading not only to injustice but also extra expense to the taxpayer, says Catherine Baksi

Cover story

Grayling stalls over changes to exceptional funding

May, 2015 by Catherine Meredith and Alison Pickup

The impact of the key ruling in Gudanaviciene over funding for immigration cases is being diluted by the Lord Chancellor’s failure to issue new guidance to Legal Aid Agency decision makers, say Catherine Meredith and Alison Pickup.

Column

Prevention works better than cure

May, 2015 by Vicky Ling

The Legal Aid agency has numerous audit and validation processes, and the consequences of failing one can be costly. Vicky Ling suggests setting up an internal audit system so you are well prepared when a contract manager pays a visit.

Column

Managing to survive

May, 2015 by Carol Storer

LAPG is launching a ground-breaking certificate in practice management, which aims to help hard-pressed legal aid firms fill the management gap. Carol Storer explains the thinking behind the scheme

Feature

Grayling acts to thwart court ruling over JR payments

May, 2015 by Anne McMurdie and Simon Garlick

Moves by the Lord Chancellor mean victory in the high court challenge over judicial review payments was short lived. The solution to maintaining access to justice may lie in the hands of the electorate, as much as the courts, say Anne McMurdie and Simon Garlick, two of the lawyers involved in the case.

Feature

Strategic advantage

May, 2015 by Sue Lukes

The success of the residence test judicial review was widely applauded by legal aid lawyers. What is less well known is that this key challenge relied in part on funding from the Strategic Legal Fund. Sue Lukes explains how the fund works, and the ways in which more practitioners could benefit from its support.

Use it or lose it

Funding for asylum cases

May, 2015 by Alison Harvey

Public funding for representation and advice in asylum matters has survived LASPO relatively unscathed. Alison Harvey looks at what remains available for those in the most desperate of circumstances and what lawyers working with them need to know.

Legal aid may be down, but it’s not out completely – at least not yet. Legal Action s Use it or lose it series aims to highlight what remains of legal aid, and to
show practitioners how they can make the most of it to help their clients obtain much-needed access to justice.

Law and practice

Community care law update

May, 2015 by Karen Ashton and Simon Garlick

Karen Ashton and Simon Garlick look at recent case-law, including decisions on rates payable for funded nursing care, ordinary residence and NHS continuing healthcare, as well as Care Act 2014 amendments and consultations, and updated guidance in areas including autism and personal health budgets.

Law and practice

Sentencing masterclass

May, 2015 by Tony Edwards

Mitigation is a key part of defence work, but is often overlooked.
If you get it right, it can mean the difference between a client walking free from court and not. In the first of a new regular series,
Tony Edwards explains the legal principles behind mitigation and how to do it effectively.