Docklands body in move to block legal aid for residents

The giant corporation overseeing development of the docklands in London has launched a court action aimed at stopping financial help for residents who want to sue it.

In an unprecedented move, the London Docklands Development Corporation is taking action against the Legal Aid Board, which had offered to fund the 800 damages claims brought by local residents.

The LDCC says the board was wrong to grant legal aid without studying each case in detail. Residents fear that if the corporation is successful, they will be left with no financial support and no chance of continuing with their cases.

The claims were launched in 1991 after residents complained about the noise and dirt from the Docklands development. They said the quality of their lives, as well as their health, had been affected. Writs have also been issued against Olympia and York, developers of Canary Wharf, and the Docklands Light Railway.

Legal aid was granted in November 1991 and then extended two years later after the board studied a representative sample of cases.