Most civil clients, even for cases involving special urgency, are seen by appointment. It is best to tell your client at the time when the appointment is made what documentation they should bring to evidence their financial eligibility.
Our view is that you will usually only be able to be satisfied as to financial eligibility when you have seen documentary evidence to support this.
However, we accept that in some cases, for example where your client has had to flee the family home due to fear of harm, it may not be possible for them to produce documentary evidence of financial eligibility immediately. In such circumstances you should gather and record as much information as possible so you can show why you were satisfied as to your client’s financial eligibility.
Evidence of income
You should ask your client, and their partner if appropriate, to provide up to date evidence of their income. For example:
Copy of their latest payslips
Most recent benefit award letter
Up to date bank statements.
You should also ask your client and their partner if they have any other income they are not able to verify i.e maintenance payments received in cash.
Evidence of capital
You should ask your client, and their partner if appropriate, to provide an up to date statement for all accounts and investments held solely and jointly in their names. It is important that you check the transactions, such as transfers from or to other accounts, which may be indicative of additional income and/or capital. You should also ask them if they have an interest in or are due to receive any other capital they have been unable to verify for example property, policies, inheritance etc.
Evidence of passporting benefits
The passporting benefits are:
Income based Jobseekers Allowance
Income Based Employment
Contribution-based Jobseekers Allowance and Contribution-based ESA are not passporting benefits so account has to be taken of these benefits and any other income.
If your client is receiving or is included in their partner’s claim for one of the above passporting benefits you should ask to see an up to date award letter. If you are in doubt about whether the benefit is income based ask your client to telephone their local DWP office to clarify this. Make sure you verify the correct benefit to ensure your client is eligible.
If a Form 1 is submitted with a civil application and your client is not in receipt of a passporting benefit, we will reject the application for a financial form 2 which will delay matters for both you and your client.
Cover for work done before a decision on the legal aid application: the nature and types of special urgency
Read more on how to get cover for urgent work that must be done before a decision on legal aid is given.
List of circumstances in which you may undertake urgent work without prior approval
Read the list of circumstances where urgency work can be done without our prior approval (as long as you comply with Reg 18 of the Civil Regulations 2002)
Arrangements for collection of your client’s contributions in special urgency: the client mandate
Read about the importance of online declaration for special urgency work and information about contributions in this context.
Assessment of special urgency applications: tests applied by us
View factors that may suggest to us that there is no special urgency when considering the application.
Special urgency guidance: family cases
This page sets out our approach to assessing special urgency in various family cases including contact/residence; minutes to vary; minutes for failure to obtemper; and in relation to obtaining reports ordered by the Court.
Rejected or continued applications for civil legal aid: limited circumstance in which special urgency is available
Read general guidance on how we approach the special urgency test in the event of delay in seeking cover.
The importance of providing reasons for special urgency in the body of your application
Find out the sort of information we need within the application to show special urgency with an explanation of why we need this.
Special urgency, expenses, and property recovered or preserved: circumstances where we may not be able to pay you
Learn about situations under Regulation 18(7) when we might not be able to pay you and how this relates to expenses.
Status of your client under special urgency: contributions and requirement to provide financial information
Guidance on understanding status of your client under special urgency, implications for contributions and requirement clients provide financial information.
Special urgency and extension or amendments to existing legal aid
View information about when an online declaration is not required for work under special urgency.
Special urgency and sanction applications: usual sanction procedure applies
Read information on the procedure for applying for sanction for work carried out under special urgency provisions.
Special urgency and undertaking necessary collateral work: timing issues
View information about undertaking necessary collateral work under special urgency and example of when a further Regulation 18(1)(b) certification is required.
Special urgency work’s status: issues your client to be aware where it is not a grant of legal aid
Read guidance on the status of special urgency and potential implications for your client.
Special urgency situations where the client does not comply with our requests for information: potential effects
Find out the implications of not completing the financial assessment where work is done under the special urgency provisions.
Special urgency: procedure for exemption from court fees
Learn about the procedure for exempting work carried out under special urgency from court fees.