Legal Aid

January 29th, 2016 by James Goudie KC

To obtain civil legal aid to bring proceedings against a public authority the applicant must show that the proposed action is within the scope of LASPO, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. One provision that may be relied upon is paragraph 1 of Schedule 1. This applies in the case of alleged “abuse by a public authority of its position or powers”.  What this means has been considered by the Court of Appeal in Director of Legal Aid v R (OTA Sunita Sisangia) (2016) EWCA Civ 24.  Sub-paragraph (4) of paragraph 1 was held not to be an exclusive or comprehensive definition.  The fact that the expression cannot be given a hard-edged definition does not mean that the concept itself is meaningless.  Moreover, the ingredients of abuse of power have been expressed in appellate cases, including by the House of Lords in R (Pulhofer) v Hillingdon LBC [1986] AC 484 at 518. “Abuse of position or power” is a recognized judicial concept. Like many other public law concepts, it is “both flexible and context-specific”.

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