In some cases it may be hard to obtain documentary evidence to verify your client’s income. For example, your client may have had to flee the family home because of domestic violence or be in hospital having just given birth. You should explain this on the application for advice and assistance/ABWOR or for an increase.

It may also be difficult to get documentary evidence your client if they have:

  • Literacy issues
  • Mental health issues
  • Chaotic lifestyles

However, even in these cases, you should try to get evidence and if you cannot, clearly explain to us why you have granted advice and assistance/ABWOR.

You should always continue, as the case progresses, to try to get this. With each application for an increase you should explain why it is not reasonably possible to obtain documentary evidence of financial eligibility.

We will honour the increases granted if:

  • You have given us adequate information during the case
  • You acted diligently and in good faith based on the circumstances of the case and the information your client provided
  • In spite of it later transpiring that your client is ineligible

However, we will seek repayment from your client and they should be told this.

Covid-19

For the period of the Covid-19 restrictions, solicitors must still be satisfied that the client is financially eligible, and you should record in a file note that you have discussed the eligibility tests for A&A with your clients and how you satisfied yourself that the clients are eligible. Relying on the information provided verbally by the client is acceptable.

When completing online applications, in the sections where you are asked if you have seen “the most recent evidence of the applicant’s capital and income”, you should:

  • say ‘No’
  • choose the ‘Other’ option
  • give the explanation ‘Coronavirus’.

In this section