We assess and collect any contribution due by your client if you are working under special urgency cover. You must be satisfied that your client is likely to qualify financially and that the online declaration is completed and signed. Any contribution we assess can then be used to pay towards part or all the cost of that work.
The Legal Aid Online declaration form is your route to payment. By signing this, your client is obliged to pay any contribution and we are responsible for assessing and collecting this.
Clients receiving benefits must still complete the online declaration as their circumstances may change. If it is a false declaration, it is the authority for us to recover any sums paid from the Fund.
Before we can accept a claim for payment under regulation 18 of the Children’s Legal Assistance (Scotland) Regulations 2013, we must be satisfied that you had reasonable grounds for believing your client would be financially eligible for legal aid, based on the information you had at the time.
For the duration of the Covid-19 period, solicitors may not be able to meet clients in person.
This means that legal aid declarations cannot be signed by people. There may also be concerns about sharing pens with people.
If you are consulting with people remotely, or have any other health concerns such as sharing pens, we can accept applications without the client’s signature in these circumstances for the time being.
In the online application, you can sign on the client’s behalf, and tick the box that asks you to confirm you have obtained your client’s signature. You can then say “coronavirus” in the additional information box at the end of the application.
Your client should be advised that:
You must obtain the client’s signature on this declaration form and keep a copy on file in case we need it at any point.
Your client should be warned they may need to provide us with information to enable us to properly assess any contribution payable.
The completion of the declaration relieves you of the need to recover any contribution payable and of asking for a payment towards your fees and outlays. If we refuse children’s legal aid, we will pay you the lodged account in full (subject, of course, to any adjustments).
You should not delay carrying out urgent work while we carry out the assessment of any possible contribution.