Hard core devotees will remember the case of Annie who was refused benefits although she had cancer. For the rest of you here's a refresher. http://frontlinehackney.blogspot.com/2011/07/cancer-who-gives-atos.html.
It had a happy ending. We went to the Tribunal twice, but she got her benefits reinstated. Even better, an appointment with a British doctor was likely to be made soon, and there was every hope that she would start getting help from the NHS she so badly needed.
So I shut the case down, bundled it up and sent the file off to the Legal Services Commission for them to look at my bill.
A few weeks ago they wrote back saying they weren't going to pay me for 80% of my work because since the LSC won't pay for advocacy in the Tribunals (I was doing that bit for free) they would not pay for preparation for the hearing.
Never mind that we won and righted a great wrong. Never mind that this interpretation of the rules was counter to the last 10 Tribunal cases we had done. Never mind that this Legal Aid Funding has always been for all steps up to but excluding the actual hearing.
I only had 14 days to appeal. My appeal is late.
While my fortnight was ticking by we helped scores of people in danger of losing their homes, met immigration appeal deadlines of a week or less, housed homeless families at the 11th hour. My partner was in hospital, my secretary's daughter was in the hospital, we spent the time we had to help real people with real problems.
And now it seems we won't get paid for the work we did for Annie.
In a last ditch experiment I shall be sending our appeal late, and attaching copies of this blog. I shall be appealing to their humanity and British common sense. Then I shan't be holding my breath.