Chris Grayling
The MoJ says it continues to believe that the exceptional funding scheme is functioning as intended Reuters

The UK government has been dealt a blow after the Court of Appeal ruled that legal aid for exceptional immigration cases should be made available.

The judgement comes after the High Court previously said guidelines issued by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, were "too restrictive".

But the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) appealed the decision and took the case to the Court of Appeal.

Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson has now upheld the earlier decision by the High Court and said that the guidance was "unlawful".

Justice Collins, speaking in June, said that there must be a "fair and effective" hearing available and the guidance, "as the facts of some of the cases I have dealt with show, produces unfairness".

He made the comments after the director of legal aid casework refused to grant legal aid to six claimants.

The cases related to the availability of legal aid in immigration cases under Section 10 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Laspo) – a section that deals with exceptional funding applications.

"We continue to believe that the exceptional funding scheme is functioning as intended. Its purpose is to provide funding where it is legally needed," a spokesperson for the MoJ said.

But Labour's Shadow Justice Secretary, Andy Slaughter, accused Grayling of ignoring advice.

"Just when you thought the mess around the government's legal aid changes couldn't any get worse, new depths are plumbed," Slaughter said.

"The government's legal aid cuts were rushed through before preparing the necessary evidence to justify them.

"Labour, alongside most of the legal profession, warned that this would raise substantial barriers to access to justice. David Cameron should listen and fix the mess he has created."