Public Interest Law Centre is challenging the discriminatory exclusion of pensioners from accessing Legal Aid on behalf of our client Lynn*, a survivor of sexual abuse.
Background to the case
In 2022, Lynn, aged 68, was the victim of a violent crime. She sought support, but instead of being helped she was sexually assaulted by a man who took advantage of his public position.
Lynn wants justice. Based solely on income from her State Pension and Housing Benefit, Lynn has been found ineligible for legal aid. Rather than giving up, she has decided to challenge the Legal Aid Agency head on and ensure that others in her situation are not excluded from accessing justice.
“All pensioners should be able to access the legal system. That’s why I am bringing this case, for myself but also for all of them.”
What is the issue?
The ‘disposable income threshold’ for legal aid is just £733 per month. It has remained unchanged since 2013. Her State Pension now pushes Lynn £70 over that limit. Millions of pensioners are being prevented from accessing the courts.
Even if Lynn is able to find legal representation, she will still be left liable for her legal costs in the unlikely event she loses in court. Without protection from these costs, she – and others in her position – are simply unable to access justice.
What are we doing about it?
We have fully exhausted the Legal Aid Agency’s internal appeal system. We have also asked them to exercise discretion in Lynn’s case to no avail. The only avenue remaining to challenge this unfair rule affecting impoverished pensioners is through legal action.
We will issue a claim to judicially review the Legal Aid regulations by 26 April 2023, arguing that the threshold for legal aid is discriminatory against those over the State Pension age.
Why do we need your support?
Lynn’s legal team are working on this challenge on a ‘conditional fee agreement’, meaning that Lynn will not have to pay any of her legal costs. However, we need to raise money to protect Lynn from any adverse legal costs in the event the judicial review is unsuccessful.
We believe the government’s policy is unlawful and that Lynn’s legal challenge has a strong chance of success. However, she simply cannot afford to take this risk.
“I have tried every route available to get justice and at every point I have been blocked. It is as though I have no rights.”
Challenge the Legal Aid Agency’s discrimination against pensioners
We need £7,000 to support Lynn with adverse legal costs and have launched a CrowdJustice fundraiser to ensure we can protect Lynn. Donate now and share her appeal with friends, family and colleagues so that no one is excluded from seeking justice.
Where will my money go?
All funds raised will go towards protecting Lynn from adverse legal costs in the event that the challenge is unsuccessful. If the challenge is successful, we will ring fence the donations for future legal action.