Una Turner’s public interest funding challenges reported

In this month’s Focus (the LSC’s monthly guidance publication for practitioners) two of Una Turner’s appeals to the Public Interest Advisory Panel are reported.

The Panel sits to consider appeals against refusals to provide public funding.

They have the authority to review the refusals and recommend funding if the case is seen to involve important issues of general public interest.

In the first of the two cases (PIAP/05/316) Una looked to challenge, by Judicial Review, the position whereby a patient detained pursuant to sections 37-41 of the Mental Health Act was recalled by the Home Office then denied a right to appeal, it being argued that this was incompatible with Human Rights legislation.

The application was granted by the Panel as the case was recognised to be of significant wider public interest.

In the second case (PIAP/05/318), Una sought to challenge the decision of a District Judge that a case in which damages are claimed for a patient, for unlawful detention, due to repeated delays in setting, and cancellations of, Tribunal hearings, was allocated to the small claims track (thereby making costs irrecoverable and effectively defeating the viability of the claim).

Whilst not allowing the appeal, the Panel did acknowledge that allocation of cases like this to the small claims track did raise article 6 implications, in light of the Applicant’s capacity, which needed to be taken into account in the final funding decision. The LSC subsequently granted the application.