Strategic impact or wider public interest of the case

A relevant factor when considering the reasonableness test may be that a case demonstrates a wider public interest.

A wider interest may be present in matters such as judicial review, appeals or reparation where several cases arise out of the same incident. In some instances, individual cases can aid strategic development of the law for groups, including groups protected under law. It could also be demonstrated when the outcome of the case may have a direct tangible benefit to your client and to others.

We may consider it unreasonable to make legal aid available to allow your client to litigate, as a private citizen at public expense, about something that is obviously not exclusive to them. Examples of this could be:

  • The fluoridation of public water supplies,
  • The noise generated by a large social or cultural event,
  • Closure of public leisure facilities.

Our Legal Services Cases Committee will consider applications of this nature.

This can be treated as a determining factor when considering an application and its particular circumstances even if the value of the claim is relatively modest. However we will also consider questions such as prospects of success and cost-benefit.

Evidential requirements

You must give us full and accurate information about the value of the claim and the likely case costs. This will allow us to assess whether there is any prospect of financial benefit to your client.

Full information should be provided about the nature of the wider interest in the case. Our criteria for a wider public interest will not be met:

  • By simply asserting that such an interest exists without material to support this.
  • Simply because other people may find the nature of the proceedings interesting or there may be some hypothetical interest.
  • When we consider that the interest is, in fact, a private interest.

Your application needs to address the tests in Regulation 15 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) Regulations 2002. We must refuse applications when your client has a joint or the same interest with others if we are satisfied that either:

  • Your client would not be seriously prejudiced in their own right if we did not grant legal aid.
  • It would be reasonable for the other people concerned to meet the expenses of the action.

If your client is part of a group bringing similar claims, or similar claims have already been brought by others, whether legally aided or not:

  • We need full information about the funding of the other claims.
  • Your client will need to explain clearly the prejudice that would arise if we refused legal aid.

We must refuse the application if the tests in regulation 15 are met. You should include your views on wider public interest and regulation 15 in relation to this case in a separate note, not in the statutory statement or your client’s applicant statement.

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