Your obligation to obtain adequate verification

You should:

  • Always get documentary evidence of financial eligibility as early as possible, preferably at the initial meeting and keep this on file. The onus is on the client to give you the necessary information.
  • Get your client to sign the Declaration Form, AA LAO CHLA, allowing enquiries to be made of third parties such as employers, benefits providers and banks, and use this authority to obtain any necessary documentary evidence your client has not given you.

You must not:

  • Charge for any time or work involved in obtaining information about, or assessing, financial eligibility or for the cost of writing for any verification.
  • Start to act until you are satisfied your client is eligible

Most meetings with clients in children’s cases are by appointment. We recommend that firms explain to clients when the appointment is made what documentation they should bring to the first meeting. Sometimes you may be satisfied that a client is financially eligible even though they have not brought this documentation to the first meeting. If so, you should clearly show this on your files and ensure you have a procedure in place to follow up with them to produce the documentation at a later date.

Your client’s responsibilities

It is important you make your clients aware of their responsibilities. They need to know their entitlement to publicly funded legal assistance is subject to their meeting certain criteria and that they should be able to show they meet these.  It is important that you advise clients of the potential consequences of providing false information.

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