Financial verification for advice and assistance: general principles

Income and Capital verification to be declared to SLAB at the earliest possible stage

An introduction to obtaining financial verification and when this should be provided

In general, you should always get documentary evidence of financial eligibility as early as possible, preferably at the initial meeting unless there is real urgency, and keep this on file. The onus is on the client to give you the necessary information.  This will help you minimise the work you have to do to determine eligibility.

No charges may be made for time spent obtaining or verifying financial information

Obtaining financial verification deemed unchargeable

You cannot, under the terms of the regulations, charge for any time or work involved in obtaining information about, or assessing, financial eligibility, or for the cost of writing for any verification. For up-to-date information about eligibility limits use the Keycard.

The applicant must sign the online declaration

Having the applicant sign the online declaration     

You must get the applicant to sign the attached mandate form, AA/VERF/MAND, allowing enquiries to be made of third parties such as employers, benefits providers and banks, and use this authority to obtain any necessary documentary evidence the applicant has not given you. You should not, however, start to act until you are satisfied your client is eligible.

The importance of having procedures for assurance of verification

An introduction to implementing procedures to ensure financial verification is obtained     

Most meetings with clients in civil and children’s cases are by appointment. We recommend that firms should put into place, and consistently apply, procedures similar to those for money laundering, and explain to the client when the appointment is made what documentation they should bring to the first meeting. Sometimes you may be satisfied that a client is financially eligible even though they have not brought this documentation to the first meeting – for example, where you have a long-standing solicitor/client relationship – and decide to give them advice and assistance. If so, you should clearly show this on your files, and it is important you have clear and well-applied procedures for following up any undertaking to produce the documentation at a later date or meeting.

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