Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Updates of Legal Affairs…

Duncan Lewis – Giving People a Voice

July 29th, 2011

Need a Lawyer?

Duncan Lewis will Speak up for you.

So Why Choose Duncan Lewis?

The legal system can be very intimidating for anyone, but particularly if you are up against a large organisation like a government department.  Duncan Lewis is here to be your voice and your advisor, to make the strongest case on your behalf.

In many cases, Duncan Lewis can provide legal assistance, which is free to you. This covers anything from the most straightforward applications, but also includes the complex cases in the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court – which would otherwise have cost thousands of pounds.  Duncan Lewis strives to make their service as accessible as possible to everyone, conducting numerous outreach advice surgeries and also taking on some cases on a pro bono basis, where legal aid is not available.  Duncan Lewis have a pro bono committee who help make this decision. 

Duncan Lewis has access to over 400 interpreters covering many languages.  The firm consistently strives to provide high levels of legal advice and services to all those in desperate need of our help.

The quality of Duncan Lewis’ work is repeatedly demonstrated by the very high success rates achieved in cases that we take on.  Duncan Lewis has achieved Quality Mark Accreditations for Lexcel (The Law Society‘s quality Mark) and Investors in People Gold standard.  This means that staff at Duncan Lewis receive the highest quality training to continue building our reputation and standards. 

Duncan Lewis doesn’t just have a deep understanding of law, but sometimes we help to create new law. Duncan Lewis has more reported cases than any other legal aid firm in the country, with some of these cases fundamentally changing legal interpretations.

At Duncan Lewis our size means that you actually get a more personal service.  Our staff are able to specialise in a particular sub area of law.  They can use their expert knowledge to wrok on your behalf.  As a predominantly legal aid firm, Duncan Lewis are still able to work on a well resourced network and use the economies of scale efficiently.  Despite the constraints of legal aid funding, Duncan Lewis can assure that you will receive a high quality representation from our law firm

Duncan Lewis is the largest legal aid civil practice in the country.  We also offer a very high quality and cost-effective service to private paying clients. With 17 departments and 400 staff sharing 65 nationalities, Duncan Lewis have the specialist you need.

Duncan Lewis Press Release

July 27th, 2011

The Court of Appeal criticises approach of Administrative Court Costs Judges in a landmark case and restates Boxall[1] principles while emphasising the need to abide by the pre-action protocol in judicial review cases.

 The Court of Appeal handed down a judgment on Tuesday 26th July in the case of Bhata[2] that overturns the practice that had built up in the Administrative Court of refusing the Claimant his costs where the Defendant settles before a final hearing.

 The lead case on costs where a claim for judicial review settles before a full hearing is Boxall, well known to judicial review practitioners. The key principles in Boxall include: ‘at each end of the spectrum there will be cases where it is obvious which side would have won had the substantive issues been fought to a conclusion’; ‘in the absence of a good reason to make any other order the fall back is to make no order as to costs’; and ‘the court should take care to ensure that it does not discourage parties from settling judicial review proceedings for example by a local authority making a concession at an early stage.’

 These principles had come to be interpreted by a number of judges in the Administrative Court as virtually amounting to a licence for Defendants to await a decision on permission and then, if permission is granted, concede the relief requested but claim that they were doing so for ‘pragmatic reasons’ and resist costs. The Appellants appealed against orders refusing them their costs on these bases.

 The Court of Appeal recognising that the ‘appeal raises a question of general application’ stated that: 

  • ‘What is not acceptable is a state of mind in which the issues are not addressed by a defendant once an adequately formulated letter of claim is received by the defendant.  In the absence of an adequate response, a claimant is entitled to proceed to institute proceedings.  If the claimant then obtains the relief sought, or substantially similar relief, the claimant can expect to be awarded costs against the defendant.’
  • The Court had ‘serious misgivings about [the defendant]’s claim to avoid costs when a claim is settled for “purely pragmatic reasons” … The expression “purely pragmatic” covers a multitude of possibilities.  A clear explanation is required, and can expect to be analysed, so that the expression is not used as a device for avoiding an order for costs that ought to be made.’ 
  • There was also deep concern that failure to award costs in meritorious cases was hindering access to justice, to which the Court responded ‘Lord Hope’s statement that “the consequences for solicitors who do publicly funded work are a factor which must be taken into account” [3] is intended to be of general application … Moreover, a culture in which an order that there be no order as to costs in a case involving a public body as defendant, because a costs order would only transfer funds from one public body to another is in my judgment no longer acceptable.’ 

Claimant lawyers will welcome the return to rigour presaged by this judgment, which will come as a particular relief to legally-aided lawyers, beset as they are by funding difficulties: at least they can now expect to receive their costs in good cases properly brought.

This article is also available on the Duncan Lewis website   

A full article dealing with the case in detail will be posted on the Duncan Lewis website on Monday next week.

[1] R (Boxall) v Waltham Forest LBC 21 December 2000 (2001) 4 CCL Rep 258

[2] Bhata & Others v SSHD [2011] EWCA Civ 895, also known as ‘AK’

[3] in Re appeals by Governing Body of JFS [2009] 1 WLR 2353

Duncan Lewis has achieved VHCC Accreditation

July 25th, 2011

A Very High cost Case is one where trial is likely to last for more than 40 days or between 25 and 40 days and meets the following criteria:

• Terrorism prosecutions
• SFO prosecutions

Or any two of the following:

• At least 10,000 pages of prosecution evidence
• At least 10,000 pages of unused or third party material
• More than five defendants
• Fraud or serious drugs cases where the value of the fraud or drugs exceeds £1m.

Duncan Lewis is pleased to announce that we have achieved Accreditation for Very High Cost Cases as a mark to our commitment to quality work in this area of practice.

The Crime Department at Duncan Lewis is able to deal with all criminal offences and our team is available on an emergency basis for people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Duncan Lewis regularly represent our clients at Police Stations, Magistrates Courts, Crown Courts, and at Appeal Courts such as the Court of Appeal. Our clients know they can rely on a prompt and effective service, and many use our services time and again.

Duncan Lewis retains Disability Symbol User Accreditation

July 13th, 2011

Duncan Lewis has worked in partnership with Jobcentre Plus since 2008, in order to deliver our commitment to embrace all members of the local communities and assist with the recruitment and continued employment of those affected by a disability. The Disability Symbol User status has been granted to Duncan Lewis for the last three years as a result of this. Following our recent annual audit, Duncan Lewis is pleased to announce that the firm has been awarded the Disability Symbol Accreditation for a further 12 months.

Graham Houghton, District Manager, East London District, Jobcentre Plus comments, “The evidence provided and general embracing of the ethos of the symbol continues to meet the criteria of the five commitments required by this accreditation”

An employee at Duncan Lewis makes the following statement with regards to this:

I began working at Duncan Lewis as a caseworker in 2006. I suffer from a disability but as it does not directly affect my work I did not mention it when I began. However, approximately 7 months after I began I applied for a training contract and at that time in order to apply you needed to take a written exam. As I required special arrangements for any written exams that I took, I informed HR of my disability. I was called for a meeting as they were not aware of my disability but after I explained my whole situation to them they were accommodating and provided me with the special arrangements which I required. 

Since then I have progressed at Duncan Lewis from caseworker to trainee and am now a qualified solicitor at Duncan Lewis. During my time I have not felt that I have been treated any differently from any other employee or given any special treatment. However I feel that when I have needed to approach my supervisor or HR for any reason concerned with my health issues they have been accommodating and understanding to my needs. Furthermore, they have treated my situation with the utmost confidentiality, which is also of importance to me.

I therefore encourage any employee who feels they have special needs or require extra assistance in any way to approach their supervisor and inform HR accordingly, as this is something they should obtain the support they need for.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors Joins WordPress

July 7th, 2011

Duncan Lewis Solicitors are the UK’s largest legal aid firm. The firm has 6 offices in and around London and specialises in many areas of law including family, child care, crime, mental health and immigration law. As well as offering legal aid, Duncan Lewis also have a private client following for employment, conveyancing, family and immigration law.

Duncan Lewis will be posting articles and blogs here to give you more of an insight of the firm and what Duncan Lewis do.

Visit www.duncanlewis.co.uk for more information about our law firm and the services we offer.