The Home Office has instructed the Legal Aid Board (LAB) to investigate the issuing of legal aid for judicial reviews in immigration cases.
The Lawyer understands that Home Secretary Jack Straw is concerned that too many immigrants are receiving legal aid to seek reviews against government decisions to expel them.
The LAB is scrutinising 200 files from the London area in a research exercise which it says is still at a “very early stage”.
The Conservative Government was plagued by a string of high-profile judicial reviews relating to immigration. There were 1,748 applications in 1996, of which 301 were successful.
Richard Dunstan, secretary of the Law Society's immigration law sub-committee predicted the research might result in the tightening up of the procedures for those seeking legal aid to bring immigration judicial review cases.
And he pointed out that plans to issue green form legal aid under contract would provide the Government with the means to control how much advice is given in immigration cases.
A government consultation paper proposed setting up a regulatory scheme for all immigration lawyers and advisers last month, amid anti-lawyer rhetoric by Jack Straw and his advisers.