Legal Aid

House of Lords written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Lord Tebbit Lord Tebbit Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In what circumstances foreign nationals resident overseas are able to obtain legal aid to bring actions in United Kingdom courts concerning matters which occurred in a foreign country.

Photo of Baroness Ashton of Upholland Baroness Ashton of Upholland Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

Legal aid is available for civil or criminal proceedings in England and Wales without reference to nationality or residence. It is for the courts to determine whether it is appropriate for proceedings to take place in this jurisdiction, taking into account the location of the events concerned.

The Legal Services Commission has no powers to fund cases that relate to the laws of countries other than England and Wales, unless issues that arise from a case affect the law of England and Wales. Legal aid is not available for foreign nationals who face criminal proceedings in respect of alleged offences committed abroad. This policy is consistent with other EU member countries.

The Lord Chancellor has the power to specify that cases involving the application of laws outside England and Wales may be funded if they relate to obligations imposed on the UK by international agreements.

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