The essential components of a civil legal aid application: forms, statutory statements, declaration

An application for civil legal aid should include:

  • Completed application forms
  • A statutory statement as to the nature of the case and your client’s interest in it
  • Any statements and other documents we may need to assess the application.
  • Legal Aid Declaration (CIV/SOL) to record key information and capture the signatures of you and your client. All declarations must be signed and dated by you and your client, and completed in full.

Covid-19

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.

Information you should make your clients aware of before applying

Before applying for legal aid, it is essential your client understands the implications and responsibilities of this.

You should also ensure that they are aware that legal aid is not always free.  Depending on their finances and on the nature of the case, they could have to pay:

  • A contribution from their income and/or capital towards the cost of the case
  • If they get or keep property or money, some or all of their own costs from that property
  • If they lose the case, some or all of their opponent’s costs

Information you must provide with a civil legal aid application

Choosing the correct application form

All applications must be made using Legal Aid Online and providing the appropriate form that deals with the financial aspects.

Your client’s financial eligibility forms will either be:

Form 1

This is available on Legal Aid Online. It is for cases where your client is receiving:

  • Income support
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Universal credit
  • Payments from the National Asylum Support Service

Form 2

For all other cases.

Your client must sign the form, (unless you cannot get their signature in a case of special urgency and want us to consider using our discretion to allow your signature).

Providing an effective statutory statement

The purpose of the statutory statement is to:

  • Focus our attention clearly on what exactly legal aid is sought for
  • Give notice to the opponent of what legal aid is sought for

Provided these objectives are met, there is no need for a lengthy detailed statement.

If you refer to sections or sub-sections of particular Acts, please give the reference in full.

You should describe in lay terms what your client is seeking by the action, as we may send the statement to someone who is not legally qualified.

If you do not wish us to pass on the address of your client to others in the case, do not include this in the statement as we send this direct to the opponent or the opponent’s representatives.

You do not have to set down every aspect of the case in the style of an initial writ.

If we receive a statutory statement which we do not think gives adequate notice to any opposing party, then we will ask you to provide a fresh one.

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