Financial verification for advice and assistance: introduction

The purpose of this guidance is to help ensure that only those who are eligible for advice and assistance receive it.

You can only provide advice and assistance if you have satisfied yourself the client is eligible under the Act and regulations. For the client to be financially eligible, their disposable income and disposable capital, and that of their spouse or partner, must be within the limits set by the regulations. In assessing eligibility, you must have regard to our guidance, in accordance with the regulations.

We have prepared this guidance after consultation with the Law Society, other representative bodies such as the Family Law Association and APIL and individual solicitors.  It sets out approaches consistent with existing good practices already in place in many firms, and with the approaches of legal aid authorities in other jurisdictions in the UK and beyond.  It should help you do this with the least bureaucracy.

We do not want the guidance to act as a barrier to access to justice nor to penalise solicitors who have acted and proceeded in good faith. We have attempted to identify the difficulties solicitors may have in certain circumstances or types of cases and how to address such situations. We welcome your comments on any areas you feel we have not covered.

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