Illegal Migration Bill Last minute too narrow proposal for legal aid

The government yesterday (27 June) announced it has launched a consultation in relation to legal aid fees in the Illegal Migration Bill.

“While any proposed increase for legal aid work is positive, this consultation has been announced extremely late in the day,” said our president Lubna Shuja.

“The Illegal Migration Bill, which is already at Report Stage in the House of Lords this week, must not be passed without the proposed legal aid fee increase being in place.

“Even if this is achievable, thousands of people are still likely to struggle to get access to a lawyer while facing removal.

“There is a severe lack of capacity in the asylum and immigration sector, with many asylum seekers dispersed to areas with no legal aid provision, and a growing asylum backlog.

“The proposed fee increase alone – which will only be for those who have received a removal notice under the Illegal Migration Bill – is not going to address this capacity crisis.

“Nor is it going to overcome the practical difficulties of individuals facing removal, having just eight days to secure legal advice and bring a suspensive claim. If they are detained in offshore barges for example, it will be extremely difficult for them to access a lawyer.

“The Illegal Migration Bill is a defective piece of legislation that threatens to undermine the rule of law and access to justice. It is likely to be unworkable. The government should stop and think again about this last-minute, too-narrow proposal.”

Notes to Editors

• See the consultation here

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