Advice on obtaining and retaining documentary evidence and the age of documentary evidence

Documentary evidence of financial eligibility should be obtained as early as possible and retained on file. You should encourage your clients to bring the required documentation with them to the first appointment.

It is important that clients are made aware of their responsibilities. Their entitlement to publicly-funded legal assistance is dependent on their meeting certain criteria. The onus is on them to provide evidence of their eligibility.

If your client forgets to bring documents such as bank statements, alternative documents such as ATM mini-statements may show sufficient information to allow you to be satisfied of eligibility.

Where you are unable to obtain the documentary evidence at the first meeting, you should obtain a signed mandate from your client allowing enquiries to be made of third parties such as employers, benefits providers and banks. A pro-forma mandate is available for this purpose. You should not, however, start to act until satisfied as to eligibility.

Age of documentary evidence

What is to be established is the financial position of your client in the seven days prior to being admitted to A&A/ABWOR. Ideally, the documentation concerned should specifically cover that period of time.

When considering this documentation, you should:

  • Check with your client that there have been no changes since the date of the document
  • Retain a brief note of any such questions asked and the responses provided that satisfied you as to your client’s financial eligibility
  • Make use of the mandate allowing you to make enquiries of third parties when necessary

If more recent documentation becomes available at a later date, you can update your client’s financial information by sending us an online ‘Verification Update’. The system will re-assess eligibility and re-calculate any contribution payable by your client.

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