Covid-19: Applicants’ signatures on online declaration forms

In March, we recognised that during the Covid-19 restrictions, solicitors may not be able to get client signatures on Legal aid declarations.

We advised that if you are consulting with clients remotely, or encounter other practical difficulties, such as the need to avoid sharing pens, we can accept applications without the client’s signature in these circumstances for the time being.

Online application: when you are asked to confirm that the declaration has been signed by the client, you should say “No”, and give the explanation ‘Coronavirus’.

In applications where this option is not given: you should indicate that you are signing on behalf of the client and give the date for this.

This advice still applies for the time being, but where it is possible, you should obtain your client’s signature.

Keeping adequate evidence

Where it is not possible, the following guidance is a reminder of the steps you should take to ensure that you keep adequate evidence of your client’s instructions in the case, and relevant information on their financial circumstances.

  • You should make a note in your file explaining why it is not possible to directly obtain a client’s signature,
  • As is required in normal circumstances, your file should contain evidence of your client’s initial instructions, for example email exchanges or telephone/meeting attendance notes.
  • You should keep a copy of financial verification provided by your client on your file.
  • If you find that you are conducting more communication by text message, your file notes should record any important information in the file.

More information

If you have any queries on the update, please contact:

Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance E: thomaski@slab.org.uk

Cindy Morrice, Civil Finance Manager E: morriceci@slab.org.uk

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