A test case is a legal challenge where the outcome will have significance not only for the person bringing it, but for many others too. In other words, the case has a significant wider public interest beyond those directly involved in it.
Test cases seek to:
- challenge the lawfulness of legislation (for example on human rights grounds) or how the legislation is being applied,
- obtain a ruling on an untested point of law, or
- overturn or confirm a prevailing judicial interpretation.
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Why test cases?
By bringing test cases, CPAG aims to to ensure that social security legislation is itself lawful and to improve the interpretation and application of the law so that it fully promotes the rights of claimants, in particular families with children. We want to ensure that those who find themselves needing to claim benefits, often vulnerable members of our community, receive what they are entitled to under a social security system which operates in line with the rule of law.
Test case criteria
CPAG takes on a small number of test cases each year in line with our test case strategy. We focus on cases that have the potential to improve the lives of families with children in poverty.
CPAG is a small organisation with limited resources, and we do not advise members of the public directly. We provide advice to advisers, and we accept referrals for test cases from other organisations, if they fit our criteria and we have the resources to take them on.
Unfortunately we cannot take referrals for test cases from Scotland. CPAG’s legal team is based in London and we cannot apply for legal aid in Scotland or instruct counsel there.
CPAG has a contract with the Legal Aid Agency to take on up to 30 public law cases a year. While we are not eligible to apply for a welfare benefits contract, we do take on a number of Upper Tribunal cases either pro-bono or under an individual case contract with the Legal Aid Agency.
If you are an adviser and you would like to refer a test case to us, please see our referrals page.
Our Guide to Legal Test Cases provides an overview for potential claimants and advisers of what pursuing a test case involves.
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