Criminal: Legal aid in contempt proceedings at first instance: applying to the court and eligibility criteria

Defining the ‘court’ concerned and possible parties

The court should be defined as usual – any forum conducting judicial proceedings.  Contempt of court may arise at any stage in the proceedings, whether at first instance or at any appellate stage.

Your client charged with contempt may be:

  • A party to the proceedings
  • A witness
  • A legal or other representative
  • Any person in court or in the court precincts
  • A person reporting on proceedings

Manner of application to the court: default form to submit

You must apply to the court in writing and in whatever form the court requires or accepts as sufficient in any particular case.

Unless the court instructs otherwise, you should use the form CRIM/COURTAPP.


Eligibility criteria, first instance contempt: undue hardship and interests of justice tests

The court has to be satisfied on the following:

  • Undue hardship –the expenses of proceedings would cause undue financial hardship for your client or their dependants
  • Interests of justice –in all the circumstances of the case it is in the interests of justice to make legal aid available

The court does not have to consider if other rights and facilities are available to your client or if they have reasonable expectations of receiving financial help from any bodies of which they are members.

Your client does not have to make a statement on oath about any matter relevant to their application for legal aid.

Requirement on court to intimate decision on application for legal aid

As soon as the court decides an application for legal aid it must tell us and your client or you on their behalf.

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