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Legal Aid Agency’s Exceptional Case Funding scheme is unlawful

The purpose of ECF is to act as a safety net following substantial cuts to legal aid. The upshot of these cuts is that many deserving people are denied legal assistance. In some cases, such as that of I.S., where the claimant “lacked capacity to engage in litigation”, it would result in fundamental rights being breached.
ECF had been implemented to address this issue to allow funding in exceptional cases which otherwise fall outside the scope of the legal aid scheme. However, the High Court found that the scheme is operating unlawfully.  Mr Justice Collins made the decision in the test case of “I.S.” and ruled “The rigidity of the merits test and the manner in which it is applied are in my judgment wholly unsatisfactory. They are not reasonable.”
Previously, many apparently clear-cut cases had been refused. As the court of appeal stated:  “The case of I.S. is extreme. It is impossible to see how a man suffering from his disabilities could have had any meaningful involvement in the decision making process without the benefit of legal representation.”
The High Court’s decision raises the hope that other vulnerable people who have been denied legal aid, whether children or adults, may now be able to access the ECF scheme as it was intended.  We are experienced solicitors and can offer legal aid for several types of legal services.  We are also experts in public law and judicial review and can give you the expert advice you need. Call 01302 320621 or email

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