Changes are being made to housing possession court duty schemes, which provide on-the-day advice and advocacy at court to people facing eviction. The Law Centres network has been granted permission to challenge the Ministry of Justice over these changes.
Read full coverage in the Law Gazette here. Below, GMLC volunteer Robert Povall explains the legal challenge. Robert has previously written an explanation of strategic litigation, which he says “can make significant changes in legislation, policy or procedure… by taking carefully-selected cases to court”. Read that article here.
Changes to Eviction Aid: Access to Justice Left Out in the Cold
“Not rational and… will impact significantly on law centres’ core work” were the words Law Centres Network director Julie Bishop used to describe the Ministry of Justice’s changes to the way those facing eviction get Legal Aid.
Housing possession court duty schemes provide advice and representation at court to people facing possession proceedings and are important to advise “vulnerable people at a real time of need. These schemes are essential in providing support to people who risk losing their home and Julie believes that the new contracting model will have devastating effects.
The Ministry of Justice has argued that these changes will provide “larger and more sustainable” contracts, despite 48 out of 59 consultation respondents voting against the idea. The ministry is also introducing price-competitive tendering, despite 51 of 59 objections.
If there is any good news in this sad turn of events, it is that the Law Centre Network has been granted permission to challenges these changes and intends to do so in a two-day judicial review hearing in May. All eyes will surely be fixed on the High Court in what will hopefully be a victory in the name of justice.
By Robert Povall.
Robert is a Campaign Volunteer with GMLC. He is currently studying a GDL at the University of Law and is passionate about making a difference. He wants to become a Barrister, specialising in immigration, civil liberties and human rights.
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