LAB to fight smokers' claims to funds

The Legal Aid Board has applied for leave to appeal a decision which will enable 20 smokers to reapply for funds to act against tobacco manufacturers. The board, which had an earlier application for leave dismissed by the High Court, went to the Court of Appeal last month to overturn a decision made in June. In the High Court Mr Justice Popplewell threw out the board's decision to refuse legal aid to the smokers. He said the smokers, taking a test case on behalf of 300 claimants, were entitled to have the decision reviewed by the board's area committee. Leigh, Day & Co joint senior partner Martyn Day, leading the action, says: “My concern is that this whole process is costing the LAB a small fortune when, whatever happens, the matter is bound to go back before the area committee.”