The initial threshold for disposable capital in solemn cases matches the current advice and assistance limit. Please see the advice and assistance Keycard for the current limit.

What is capital?

In this context, capital means savings and anything else of value owned by the client:

  • All land and buildings that the client owns, other than their main home
  • Interests in timeshares
  • Equity in a property that may or may not be rented out, that the client does not live in and is not the family home
  • Money in the bank, building society, post office, premium bonds, national savings certificates etc
  • ISA’s, investments, shares, bonds, etc
  • The value of other non-essential possessions, such as a boat, a caravan, second car, jewellery (but not wedding or engagement rings), antiques or items bought for investment purposes
  • Money that is owed to your client
  • Money due from the will of someone who has died
  • Money due from a trust fund
  • Money that can be borrowed against business assets
  • Redundancy payments

The following are not included as capital:

  • Home in which your client and their partner lives
  • Client’s household furniture and clothing
  • Client’s tools and equipment they need for work
  • Value of the client’s car, unless it is of high net value
  • Any sums received as back payments of State Benefits

Where your client declares capital, we will require recent proof. For instance, if the capital is in an account such as an ISA, a recent copy statement is required for that account.

Capitalised income

If capital or savings sums are used to cover weekly living expenses, we can consider these savings as weekly income instead. To do this we need to know the length of time this capital sum is to cover. We convert the sum to a weekly income amount, based on the timescale the capital is supposed to cover. This then removes the capital from our capital assessment but includes the sum as weekly income. We require verification of the sum declared and confirmation of the period to be able to do this.

Any redundancy payments are usually included as capital.  However, if an element of the redundancy payment covers any notice period, this should be declared as income.

Dependants’ allowances

Where your client lives with a spouse/partner and or any dependant person or child, a standard allowance against capital is deductible for each dependant at the rates given in the current advice and assistance Keycard.

If your client is of pensionable age, we may disregard some aspects of their capital depending on their disposable income. The current advice and assistance Keycard provides details of the dis-regards.

Disposable capital

The capital figure remaining, after deducting any allowances and/or dis-regards, is your client’s disposable capital.

Client’s disposable capital below the limit

Any client with disposable capital below the capital limit qualifies for criminal solemn legal aid on capital.

Client’s disposable capital above the limit

However, if the figure exceeds the current limit of £1,716, we will compare the excess amount over, to the median costs of the case. If the excess amount over the £1,716 limit is less than the median case costs the client qualifies on disposable capital. If this figure is above the median case costs, the client will not qualify on capital.

The median case costs we use depends on whether:

  • The case is due to be heard in the High Court or the Sheriff court
  • The case category
  • Whether the case is going to trial or not

For instance, if the case can only proceed in the High court such as a charge of Murder, Culpable Homicide or Rape, we will use the High court non-trial median case cost unless or until we are advised the case is going to trial. We also look at the nature of the case involved before we can determine whether it would cause undue hardship to pay for their own legal costs.

In considering the undue hardship test, we look at factors such as:

  • The number of witnesses involved
  • The likelihood that expert evidence would be required
  • Legal complexities involved
  • Any other aspects of the case likely to lead to a need for significant preparation time

 

Median case costs table – Non Trial

 

Case category

 

High Court Non Trial

 

Sheriff and Jury Non Trial

Assault £3,429 £1,021
Drugs £4,578 £1,149
Embezzlement/fraud £2,890 £1,241
Murder/attempted murder/culpable homicide £5,111 £1,515
Offensive weapons/breach of the peace £3,652 £896
Other £3,342 £343
Road traffic offences £8,451 £709
Sexual offences £7,965 £1,177
Theft/housebreaking/robbery £4,207 £1,096

 

Median case costs table – Trial

If we are advised that a case will be going to trial, then the following higher median costs can be used for the calculation.

 

Case category

 

High Court Trial

 

Sheriff and Jury Trial

Assault £7,910 £2,980
Drugs £10,601 £3,289
Embezzlement/fraud £11,019 £2,749
Murder/attempted murder/culpable homicide £14,579 £3,801
Offensive weapons/breach of the peace £14,128 £2,349
Other £15,470 £3,113
Road traffic offences £11,814 £3,720
Sexual offences £13,356 £5,129
Theft/housebreaking/robbery £9,562 £2,267

 

In this section

Financial eligibility for solemn criminal legal aid

Undue hardship test in solemn criminal legal aid applications

Learn about the undue hardship test in solemn criminal applications and the information we need to assess it.

Financial eligibility for solemn criminal legal aid

Assessing disposable income in solemn proceedings

Find out how we assess disposable income and what outgoings can be included.

Financial eligibility for solemn criminal legal aid

Changes in financial circumstances

Find out the standard conditions attached to grants of legal aid and our power to terminate if your client's finances change.