A parliamentary report says lawyers advising asylum-seekers are overcharging the state by millions of pounds a year, and some place vulnerable clients at risk of unfair removal from the UK.
Ministers are introducing measures that penalise solicitors who bring meritless claims and are looking at ways to reduce the rising costs of criminal and immigration legal aid. The Legal Services Commission told the committee that in cases where asylum-seekers had been “put at risk”, the law firm concerned would have its contract “terminated immediately”.
In 2001-02 the Legal Services Commission recovered £2.1m in overpayments in asylum and other civil claims and cut law firms’ bills by a further £4.25m. One firm had to repay £700,000 out of £2.3m. In February, a High Court judge condemned solicitors for “milking” the system by fighting hopeless cases for asylum-seekers.