Fri, 09 Jul 2010
Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) - formerly the Refugee Legal Centre, provided legal advice and representation to more than 10,000 asylum seekers, including many children. After being operational for nearly 18 years it was forced into administration late last month because the Legal Services Commission would not pay RMJ the money it was owed.
On 30 June 2010 the High Court heard an application for interim injunctive relief made by several of RMJ’s former clients. The application was supported by an intervention on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner by
Manjit Gill QC and Edward Nicholson. The first part of the application sought further funding to enable the RMJ to continue for a somewhat longer period. This was refused by Mitting J.
The second part sought certain interim relief against the Home Office in how it dealt with the pending cases of former child clients of the RMJ pending the obtaining of alternative legal representation. The application was for an order preventing the Home Office from interviewing children and from making decisions on their outstanding applications.
The court secured the Secretary of State’s agreement not to make decisions on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. It expressed its concerns as to the treatment of children’s cases and made clear that it expected the Home Office to be cautious in how it dealt with children having regard to the child protection issues involved. It warned the Secretary of State that she was committed to acting in the best interests of children.
Rather than making an order as such the Court adjourned this part of the application with liberty to return to court in the event that the Home Office failed to act as the court expected.
The case demonstrates the court’s concern to take steps to protect the best interests of children notwithstanding failures of public funding regimes.
The continuing fall out from RMJ’s closure is likely to be felt for some time.