University of Exeter launches Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) clinic

Published: December 20 2017

University of Exeter launches Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) clinic

The University of Exeter held its official launch for a new immigration advice clinic on 7 December 2017.  The launch was attended by Dr Joe Tomlinson, Research Director at PLP, and Emma Marshall, a PhD researcher at the University of Exeter who is currently seconded to PLP.

As part of her placement at PLP, Emma has been assisting the University of Exeter to set up an Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) clinic to run alongside the immigration clinic, taking referrals where individuals need help applying for legal aid.

The immigration clinic, which will open for its first appointments in mid January 2018, will provide pro bono legal advice on immigration law. Immigration and refugee law is highly complex involving international, European and domestic law, policy and secondary legislation.  There are frequent changes in the law which makes it a legal minefield for anyone unless they are a specialist in the area.

At present there is no law centre in the Exeter area and no other source of specialist immigration advice in the vicinity.  The nearest immigration advice services are in Plymouth and Bristol and capacity in those places is limited, even if clients were able to travel there to seek advice. Privately paid legal advice is beyond the financial means for many, and often those who are most in need are left without access to the specialist advice that they require.

One of the steering committee behind the new clinic, local resident and barrister at Matrix Chambers Samantha Knights, commented:

The immigration clinic will provide a much needed service to a vulnerable community in this area and is a tremendous achievement by the University’s Clinical Programme. 

The clinic will be staffed by law student volunteers from University of Exeter, who will be supervised by qualified solicitors and barristers. It will be a free (means tested) by appointment service, providing limited advice and information, signposting, and assistance with completing forms.  It aims to fill the gap caused by recent cuts to the scope of legal aid in immigration matters, and types of cases may include Article 8 family and private life claims, refugee family reunion, registration of children as British citizens, EU family rights and statelessness.

The launch was well attended by members of the local community, indicating the already considerable local interest in the services that will be offered.

You can contact the clinic at immigrationclinic@exeter.ac.uk for information and referrals.

The clinic is also currently recruiting additional qualified barristers and solicitors with immigration law expertise to act as reviewers and would welcome applications from any interested parties.

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