Wilson Nesbitt case update - High Court challenge successful

We are delighted to confirm that our client Rose Edmunds has been successful in her challenge of the decision to deny her funding for legal representation in a mediation process.

Habitat for Humanity had provided accommodation to Mrs Edmunds and her disabled son in Belfast. In April 2018 our client and her son were ordered to vacate their home after the organisation obtained a court declaration that the lease had been forfeited following disputes about rental arrears and a period of absence from the property. Our client wished to appeal the decision and agreed to an offer of mediation by Habitat for Humanity, however she was advised by the Legal Services Agency that she would not receive legal aid for the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process.

We presented our client's challenge of the decision to the High Court and the judge ruled that the Legal Services Agency had erred in law. The Agency does have the ability to authorise public funding for an alternative resolution process, and as such it was unlawful to deny our client legal aid.

Gary Adair, a partner at Wilson Nesbitt commented:

“This is an important decision confirming that legal aid is available for ADR processes such as mediation.  The result will hopefully be that disputes are resolved more quickly and with significant costs savings.  This will ultimately benefit the legal aid fund by creating a saving to the public purse.  I am delighted for our client who can now continue to mediate her case.

“At Wilson Nesbitt we are experts in all forms of alternative dispute resolution including mediation, arbitration, and adjudication.  We have been at the forefront of using various forms of ADR in order to advance our client’s interests and save them money and time. It is a very positive development that legal aided clients can now engage in mediation in suitable cases.”