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High Court rules against Dominic Raab

High Court rules against Dominic Raab


High Court Deems Lord Chancellor's Decisions 'Irrational' in Landmark Legal Aid Funding Case

In a significant legal development, the High Court delivered a judgment on January 31st, challenging the decisions of former Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab concerning the Criminal Legal Aid Independent Review report. The court deemed Raab's decisions "irrational" and pointed out a failure to conduct sufficient inquiries into the state of the criminal legal aid sector before making those decisions.

The case originated from the recommendations made by Sir Christopher Bellamy (now Lord Bellamy) in his review of the sustainability of Criminal Legal Aid work. The Law Society took action after Raab refused to implement the recommended minimum 15% increase in solicitors' criminal legal aid payment rates.

The High Court emphasized Raab's failure during the decision-making process to assess whether fee increases below the recommended amount would fulfill the aims and objectives of the CLAIR Report, deeming it irrational and a breach of the Wednesbury duty. The court noted Lord Bellamy's concern to inject a minimum of £100 million annually into criminal legal aid, highlighting that Raab never addressed the consequences of a shortfall in achieving this central objective of sustainability.

Regarding Ground 4, the Court ruled that Raab's failure to undertake any modeling to determine the aims and objectives of the CLAIR Report was also "irrational," asserting that Raab failed in his Tameside duty.

The judgment underscored the compelling evidence presented by the Law Society, Criminal Law Solicitors Association, and London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association members. It depicted a criminal justice system slowly unraveling, relying excessively on the goodwill of those within it. The court warned that attracting new talent to criminal legal aid would be challenging without significant funding injections, and the system might collapse without timely financial support.

The High Court Order mandates Raab to reconsider his decision on the funding needed to achieve the aims of CLAIR, demanding further modeling and updated information. Notably, the government confirmed that it would not seek permission to appeal, solidifying the High Court's decision.

This ruling not only marks a critical moment in legal aid funding but also underscores the judiciary's role in safeguarding the integrity and sustainability of essential components of the justice system. The decision may have far-reaching implications for the future of legal aid and its vital role in ensuring access to justice for all.