Legal aid residence test may affect the human rights of children

News|July 3rd 2014

Plans to limit civil legal aid to people with a “strong connection to the UK” may affect the human rights of children, a parliamentary committee has declared.

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.

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(2)

  1. Average public says:

    I am British English/European, and my family and I have always been refused legal aid regarding serious complaints of criminal abuse by UK public officials; and in a case which has taken 7-years of our lives.
    We are obliged to live abroad to where my spouse is from to protect ourselves from further abuse by UK public officials covering-up their illegal actions in their failed attempt to fabricate a criminal case and pervert the course of justice (among numerous serious and extensive matters).

    As ordinary members of the public we have had to write out complex legal documents at over 800-pages long; which one Judge took 18-months to respond to, and another (previously) claimed to have lost in his office.
    Its almost like we have been forced into a war of attrition, and are being forced to give up on Justice.

  2. Government plans to introduce legal aid residence test 'unlawful' - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] Plans to introduce a residence test for legal aid claimants are “unlawful”, the High Court has declared. […]

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