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Yossarian -v- the Legal Services Commission


A few more details on R(Southwark Law Centre) v Legal Services Commission [2007] EWHC 1715 (Admin), which I mentioned a few days ago.

First, it is worth noting that Mr Justice Collins effectively said that ‘net rent’ for the purposes of the LSC entitlement assessment included any payments the occupier was obliged to make to be able to live in their home. This includes instalments towards arrears, e.g. under a possession order or agreed between landlord and tenant. This means that the assessment is now more ‘generous’ than the one most people assumed to be the case before the LSC started the ‘rent actually paid’ nonsense. We then generally took the figure to be the set rent figure alone.

Second, the background to one of the two joined judicial reviews, R (Dennis) v LSC, casts an unholy light on the sheer untrammelled idiocy that passes for LSC decision-making these days.

Ms Dennis faced an eviction and funding was refused by the LSC under the ‘rent paid’ assessment. Ms Dennis, via her solicitors Traymans, wanted to apply for permission for JR of this decision and sent a funding application to the LSC.

The LSC refused funding on the basis that the application for judicial review ‘was without merit’! Presumably because it knew it was right on the issue.

Traymans pursued the application for permission pro bono and funding was only actually granted once Collins J had given permission to apply for JR. As it turned out (or was obvious from the start) the application was so ‘without merit’ that not only was permission granted, but the LSC lost the JR itself. In fact the LSC lost so badly that permission to appeal was only given on the basis that the costs orders against the LSC would stand no matter what, and the LSC must pay the costs of the appeal for one set of the applicants’ solicitors.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Should this increasingly demented body stand in judgement over the funding of challenges to the lawfulness of its own decisions?

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


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