When can I start giving advice and assistance?

Advice and assistance differs from children’s, civil or criminal legal aid as you, not we (or the courts), admit your client to advice and assistance.  Before you can do so, you must be satisfied that they are financially eligible for advice and assistance, with or without a contribution (regulation 8 of the Advice and Assistance (Scotland) Regulations 1996).

You can only start to give your client advice and assistance when you are satisfied on all the relevant criteria, including financial eligibility.  You cannot carry out any chargeable work until this has happened. We will abate any such work claimed in an account. Since it is you who grants advice and assistance, it follows that there is no advice and assistance until you have satisfied yourself on all relevant criteria.

Charges for time spent completing the Declaration and application form

You cannot charge for time spent getting information from your client about eligibility, assessing financial eligibility or completing an advice and assistance application, since this pre-dates you being satisfied on their financial eligibility.  If we have been asked to authorise a grant of advice and assistance to a second solicitor, the effective date is the date when we give that authority.

Preparatory work that a non-qualified person may do

Only a solicitor who is entitled to undertake legal work in his or her own name can grant advice and assistance.

Any non-qualified person who is interviewing your client for advice and assistance must refer to these notes for guidance.

What non-qualified staff may and may not do

A person who is not a solicitor:

must

  • Refer to the Keycard as well as these notes when completing the online application form
  • Refer any questions in the financial section of the form which need the exercise of discretion to you
  • Refer all matters relating to the subject matter of the advice to be given to you
  • Specifically ask the questions set out in the form

may

  • Get information from your client which will enable you to carry out the financial assessment, including vouching such as payslips
  • Take brief details of the problem, which will allow you to formulate the subject matter of advice and assistance

must not

  • Provide your client with any advice in connection with the subject matter of advice and assistance
  • Decide whether ABWOR is to be given – this is for you to decide
  • Take the decision about eligibility

You must carry out the assessment of whether your client qualifies financially.

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