The so-called ‘residence test’ could mean that children caught up in family court cases affecting them could go without legal representation. According to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, this would place the UK in breach of both Article 3 and Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The residence test would be introduced to legislation via an ‘affirmative instrument’. These are a form of legislation which require approval by both Houses of Parliament.
In a newly published report entitled Legal aid: children and the residence test, the Committee state that:
“…we are so concerned that we urge the Government to withdraw the instrument as currently drafted.”
Restrictions on legal aid cannot fairly be applied to children, they claim.
“We cannot see any way in which this proposal can be compatible with the UK’s obligations to ensure that the views of children are heard in any judicial or administrative proceedings affecting the child [as required by] Article 12 of the UNCRC, or to ensure that the child’s best interests are a primary consideration in such proceedings [as required by] Article 3.”
Read the committee’s report here.