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Behind bars | Means-tested legal aid in extradition cases under fire

The High Court has attacked several aspects of 
the means test – from unacceptable delays to 
awkward documents, says Jeannie Mackie

4 July 2012

Delays, confusion, rejected app-lication forms, lost documents, requests for documents that have already been sent several times, documents returned because one box has not been ticked in the correct manner, legal aid refused on means because the defendant earns 17 pence more than he should – such problems with legal aid in extradition cases are all familiar for practitioners in the ordinary run of the criminal courts, and would not normally trouble the higher echelons of the High Court. But they came into sharper focus in the judgment handed down last Thursday (28 June) in Stopyra v District Court of Lublin [2012] EWHC 1787 (Admin) because of the particular requirements of extradition and cases under the European arrest warrant, and the requirement that extradition cases be dealt with expeditiously.

That time factor is not merely one of the hopeful policy statements that bedevil the criminal justice system, but a spec...

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