If an applicant is granted legal aid, they will come into one of three categories:
In considering if legal aid should be made available in the last of these three situations regard will be had to the following factors:-
This list is illustrative and the criteria listed above are not determinative of any particular case nor exhaustive of the factors to which the Board might have regard. Each case will be considered on its own facts and circumstances.
We will usually allow a contribution derived from income to be paid by instalments. Normally, we will allow contributions of –
If your client finds these instalment levels unaffordable, we may, depending on the individual circumstances, be prepared to review them and to allow them to pay the contribution over a longer period.
If the contribution is derived from disposable capital, it will normally have to be paid in a lump sum when legal aid starts.
When we grant legal aid subject to a contribution –
We will carry out the means assessment in the same way. We should still be told of any changes in your client’s financial circumstances and we will adjust contributions in the light of any such changes.
Contributions reduced in this way will still be payable in instalments, usually over 20 months.
If we agree to reduce the assessed contribution and later, for example, when you make a stage report, we consider your estimate was too low, we will ask your client to pay the higher contribution, or a revised estimate, whichever is less. You should ensure that your client is aware that further requests for payment could arise.
With contributions generated from income, if your estimate is exceeded we will expect the applicant to revert to the instalment rate originally offered until either all your account has been met or the original contribution has been paid, whichever is lower.
Contributions generated from the applicant’s capital are always payable in one lump sum, but we can reduce any capital contribution to a lower estimate. Your client must be prepared to set aside enough capital to pay the whole contribution assessed or all your account, whichever is the lower, if this proves necessary because your estimate is exceeded. Our regulations do not make provision for us to reduce a person’s assessed contribution from capital unless there are exceptional circumstances.