The Government has published its response
to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) report, Legal aid: children and the residence test
In the report the Government states that individuals should have a strong connection to the UK in order to benefit from the civil legal aid scheme. A requirement to be lawfully resident at the time of applying for civil legal aid and to have been lawfully resident for 12 months in the past is considered to constitute such a ‘strong connection’.
The JCHR report
made recommendations on
the proposed civil legal aid residence test, with particular reference to the
effect of the test on children.
Following the consultation and the JCHR report in December 2013
, exceptions were made for cases which broadly relate to
an individual’s liberty, where the individual is particularly vulnerable or
where the case relates to the protection of children.
The report states:
‘The proposed residence test for civil
legal aid would comprise two limbs: (i) individuals will need to have been
lawfully resident in the UK, Crown Dependencies or British Overseas Territories
at the time the application for civil legal aid was made; and (ii) have resided
there lawfully for a continuous period of at least 12 months at any point in
the past (short breaks of up to 30 days, whether taken as a single break or
several shorter breaks, would not breach this requirement).’
According to the Government, the purpose of
the residence test is to ‘target limited public resources at cases that most
justify it, ensuring that the public can have confidence in the legal aid
The residence test was recently challenged
by way of Judicial Review in Public Law Project v The Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 2365 (Admin)
. The High Court
handed down judgement on 15 July for this case, in which the claimant was
successful. The Government is appealing this judgment and exploring options for
proceeding with the residence test.
The full report is available to download