Hourly rates for lawyers working on small-boat migrant cases will be raised by 15% under government plans
- Ministers brace for surge in cases after new laws to tackle illegal migration
- Government hopes increased fees will encourage lawyers to take on these cases
Hourly rates for lawyers working on small-boat migrant cases will be raised by 15 per cent under government plans.
Taxpayers will foot the bill for the higher legal aid fees as ministers brace for a surge in cases as a result of new laws designed to tackle illegal migration.
The Government hopes increasing fees to up to £59.39 an hour will encourage legal aid providers to take on work related to the Illegal Migration Act, which became law last week.
Ministers think it will incentivise providers and enhance capacity to meet the anticipated increase in demand for legal aid advice.
Anyone who arrives in the UK illegally through safe countries and receives a removal notice has eight days to challenge it, and can claim government-funded help to do so.
Taxpayers will foot the bill for the higher legal aid fees as ministers brace for a surge in cases as a result of new laws designed to tackle illegal migration
Under the Government’s proposals, hourly rates for specified Illegal Migration Act work will be up to 15 per cent higher than existing immigration hourly rates.
There will be no cap on the number of hours that can be charged for Illegal Migration Bill work because it was previously out of the scope of legal aid.
READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE Lawyers charging £10,000 to make fake asylum claims: Special investigation exposes staff at immigration law firms briefing clients on how to LIE to the authorities to win the right to stay in Britain
Ministers also intend to remove the means test for legal aid for removal matters – meaning anyone will be entitled to it.
But Tory MPs last night called for the system to be simplified so ‘fat-cat lawyers’ cannot profit from bogus asylum bids.
Launching the consultation, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the higher fees would ensure legal aid practitioners were ‘properly remunerated for the important work they do’.
He said: ‘The Illegal Migration Bill… will change the law so that it is easier to remove those who arrive to the UK illegally. They will be issued with a notice to ensure their swift removal, either to their home country or a safe third country.
‘Given the high volume of cases anticipated as a result of this legislation, we are proposing to pay higher fees for related immigration work.
‘This will make sure legal aid practitioners are properly remunerated for the important work they do – and ensure fair payment and access to justice for all who seek it.’
Tory former security minister Sir John Hayes called for more asylum cases to be thrown out without consideration if they are from a safe country.
He said: ‘We need to get that straightforwardness back into the system, and that will do a great deal to cut down the number of appeals, the number of cases heard, the length of those cases and the complexity of them, and therefore the amount of money the lawyers can charge.
‘And that will avoid fat-cat lawyers becoming obese lawyers.’
Launching the consultation, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk (pictured) said the higher fees would ensure legal aid practitioners were ‘properly remunerated for the important work they do’
A government spokesman said last night: ‘Our Illegal Migration Bill will change the law so people who come to the UK illegally can be promptly detained and removed.
‘We are consulting with providers to make sure the sector can meet increased demand for legal advice, and that cases can be resolved swiftly and fairly, to ensure we are able to break the business model of the smuggling gangs and stop the boats.’
A Daily Mail investigation this week exposed rogue immigration lawyers who offered to make bogus asylum claims for an undercover reporter posing as an Indian national who had arrived in the UK illegally on a small boat to look for work.
Our report found staff at some law firms were charging clients up to £10,000 to invent stories of torture, death threats and modern slavery designed to help them apply for refugee status.
In response, the Solicitors Regulation Authority said it was investigating the firms and lawyers involved, and pledged to take ‘urgent action’ to protect the public.
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