by Eve Flint
NEW LEGAL AID RULES WILL DENY ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS AND MIGRANTS
The newly enacted Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 which came into force on the 8th June further threaten the already fragile legal aid sector of asylum and immigration appeals.
The new regulations, which were brought into force before a full consultation and impact assessment, alter the legal aid fee for asylum and immigration appeals. Legal aid campaigners have protested that these changes will make legally aided asylum and immigration work financially unviable. This means that qualified lawyers must choose between working in this much needed area, or earning a fair wage.
Research carried out by Refugee Action highlighted that there had already been a 56% drop in the number of asylum and immigration legal aid providers between 2005 and 2018 and these latest developments look set to deepen this issue.
These fee changes will reduce an already dwindling number of legal aid lawyers able to represent and assist asylum-seekers and migrants in the legal processes necessary for appealing an asylum or refugee decision. In a field where demand for legal aid lawyers already exceeds supply, this further reduction will be detrimental to the rule of law and access to justice will be denied for many in need of representation.
Stephen Hale, the chief executive of Refugee Action : “A fair and effective asylum system depends on those fleeing conflict and persecution having access to good quality legal advice and independent information.”
Not only will the latest developments push many lawyers out of the sector with its unsustainable fee structure, the regulations also incentivise lawyers to avoid complex cases and spend minimal time on casework in order to ensure remuneration at all equivalent to minimum wage. Concerningly, the most vulnerable and in need asylum-seekers and migrants tend to have the most complex appeal cases meaning these rules will disproportionately affect them.
ACTION : #APrayerForLegalAid
Today is World Refugee Day. We ask that you use this time to call on your MP to support #APrayerForLegalAid and stand against the Statutory Instrument. Join the YLAL campaign to strike down the statutory instrument. Use the templates below to raise your voice with your MP and spread the message with others.
Hi [Add your MP's twitter handle], Please support the prayer against new legal aid rules that would decimate access to justice for asylum seekers and migrants. @YLALawyers #APrayerForLegalAid https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57061/legal-aid-and-advice