Changes of nominated solicitor and withdrawing from acting

Having decided that you should cease to act, you do not have to get our prior approval to be relieved from acting.  You must, however, tell the assisted person and us that you have withdrawn, and tell us why using the online “Cease to Act” function.

If you are told the assisted person no longer wishes you to act, you must tell us using the online “Cease to Act” function.

Transfer of solicitor

While your client may ask you to stop acting for them, they cannot insist on transferring their legal aid to another solicitor.

Where your client is in receipt of children’s legal aid and wishes to be represented by another solicitor, to ensure we will pay the necessary fees and outlays of both the original solicitor and the incoming solicitor, the incoming solicitor should apply online, on the client’s behalf, to transfer the legal aid certificate using the online “Transfer” application function.

We must then consider whether:

  • Your client has a good reason for seeking a change of solicitor.
  • If it is reasonable in the particular circumstances of the case for your client to continue to receive legal aid.

Examples of circumstances likely to constitute good reason to nominate another solicitor can include:

  • Ill health, incapacity or death of the nominated solicitor.
  • Retiral from practice of the nominated solicitor.
  • Suspension of the solicitor’s practising certificate, including voluntary suspension with a view to acceptance of a call to the Bar.
  • The solicitor actually responsible for the case is now to become nominated solicitor, either because they have changed firms, or the firm has changed its requirements.
  • Your client has moved to a different district and no longer finds it convenient to visit your office.
  • Where your client can no longer afford to travel to your office because of a change in their financial circumstances.
  • If the distance is causing communication issues with your client and leading to excessive charges against the Legal Aid Fund for travelling.
  • A conflict of interest arising from an existing professional or personal relationship.
  • A breakdown in the solicitor/client relationship due to perceived inadequate professional services.

These situations are not exhaustive and we will consider each application for transfer on its own individual merits.

We may also invite comments from the original nominated solicitor, particularly on:

  • Whether legal aid should continue.
  • Whether public funds are likely to be unjustifiably spent by instructing a different solicitor at the stage reached in the case.

You cannot request a transfer of agency prior to the determination of a legal aid application. The incoming solicitor needs to submit a fresh application on behalf of the client in that situation.

Effective date of any transfer

Any transfer to a new solicitor will only be effective from the date we authorise it and may not be made retrospectively.  Any work done by the incoming solicitor, or on their instructions, before that date, will not be allowable under the grant of legal aid.  If you need to do work as a matter of urgency you should contact us online or in cases of extreme urgency by telephone to request an urgent transfer.

The previous nominated solicitor will be entitled to charge for:

  • Work done until notified of the transfer.
  • Any further urgent work necessary for the protection of the immediate interests of the client or for the discharge of the solicitor’s duty to the court.

Transfer of legal aid– solicitor moving firm but nominated solicitor unchanged

You must submit a Firm Move request online which lets request that your applications are updated to your new firm.

For more information please see our Legal Aid Online Information Hub.

Nominated solicitor moving firm but client wishes to stay with firm

Transfer applications require to be submitted by the solicitor within the firm who is now to act on behalf of the client.  A signed declaration from the client is required.

Nominated solicitor unavailable

The normal transfer procedure applies where the nominated solicitor:

  • Commences maternity leave.
  • Has ill health or passes away.

A client’s transfer declaration requires to be completed and the online transfer application submitted.

In this section