Attendees: Rachel, Ollie, Philip, Tara, Janine, Imogen, Frances, Daniel, Max, Oliver, Anastasia, Rosie, Aileen, Sonya, Rushika, Henry, Catriona, Richard, Nathan, Emily, Rebecca, Kate, Susanne, Claire, Gimhani, Ian, Katherine and others
1. Welcome and introduction
2. Crowdfunding justice and junior doctors' contract – Guest Speakers
CrowdJustice: Julia Salasky
Julia told us about how Crowdfunding works, describing it as a "virtual whip round" which can be used to empower communities to have a voice, and also to make the law more accessible and the public more aware of legal issues.
She told us about cases which have been funded via CrowdJustice, including JENGba's intervention of the case in which the Supreme Court overturned 30 years of joint enterprise case law.
CrowdJustice has thresholds for how much needs to be raised for a case to be funded; the initial target must be met, and then stretch targets can be used. The level of these depend on the case.
So far, £600,000 has been raised to fund over 50 cases. Generally, the amount raised is made up by lots of small donations; the more people, the more raised!
Funding can be raised for any costs relating to a legal case, including Protective Costs Orders, expert fees and After The Event insurance. Applicants need to have instructed a lawyer, or to have a lawyer in mind. Leftover funds in general go back to the Access to Justice Foundation, unless the organisation raising funds is a charity.
Julia was asked whether CrowdJustice could be used by the government to claim that there isn’t a need for legal aid. She told us that CrowdJustice is not stepping into the legal aid gap, which it could not possibly breach but trying to empower people to ask their communities for help to fund their cases.
Justice for Health: Dr Fran Silman
There are two challenges to the junior doctors contracts: one by British Medical Association on equality grounds for the impact of the contract upon women, and the Justice for Health which has brought a broader public law challenge that the imposition of the contract is ultra vires and irrational. The challenges have been joined, and a rolled up hearing has been listed for 8 to 10 June 2016.
Fran told us that morale had been waning amongst junior doctors as strikes continued, so some went to speak to lawyers (and got inspired!) and were told that they would need to raise £200,000 to bring a judicial review. They already had a strong group of support with 60,000 junior doctors.
She spoke of how important press has been to their campaign, and recommended press launches, press releases and accompanying photograph opportunities, including angling your story to be of interest to the public, and making it as easy as possible for the press to publish your story and to circulate your funding hyperlink. She also recommended updating funders particularly as if you need to raise further funds you can approach them again.
Fran told us that the legal case mostly comes down to whether the contract is actually being imposed or not, as more recently it looks as though he was just saying that he did have the power to do so, but that he wasn't making a decision to impose. You can see details of the legal arguments here.
3. The residence test: judgment by the Supreme Court
Fantastic news that on the 18 April 2016, the Supreme Court held that the residence test was unlawful, after just one day of hearing the parties. Public Law Project's challenge was successful on ground 1, that the implementation through secondary legislation was ultra vires. The full judgment is not yet published but you can watch the hearing on the Supreme Court website here (morning session and afternoon session), and read the statement it released further to the hearing here. We will, of course, circulate the judgment once it has been handed down. The Court did not hear ground 2 of the challenge, that the test was discriminatory. We spoke about whether the government could now simply bring in primary legislation to implement the residence test. We think that it could, but would be likely to trigger further proceedings on the discrimination ground.
4. The Labour Party legal aid review
YLAL has now submitted its response to the Labour Party legal aid review. You can view it in full on our website here.
In short, the things we would want to change to improve access to justice:
1. LASPO’s changes to what matters are in scope for legal aid
2. Overly stringent legal aid means test
3. Court fee rises
How we think this could be done:
1. Repeal LASPO, and bring back areas of law previously in scope
2. Amendment of the means test
3. Conduct a comprehensive review of Court fees
The full response is here.
Ollie and Rachel had a meeting with judicial diversity committee, further to meeting with Shailesh Vara MP.