This update is to highlight a number of issues we have identified that will help process civil legal aid applications under the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Following the guidance listed below, wherever possible, will help ensure your applications for legal aid is processed without delay:
Solicitors can sign full Civil Legal Aid applications and special urgency declarations on behalf of their clients during the current Covid-19 situation.
This is in line with guidance we issued for Advice and Assistance and criminal cases.
When you apply for legal aid you should only name true opponents in your application.
In FAI and AWI applications we often get parties listed as opponents when this is not needed, for example the COPFS, Mental Welfare Commission, Office of the Public Guardian and proposed joint holders of the guardianship order or the adult.
If you do not include these unnecessary ‘opponents’ we can minimise the problems that arise in sending out intimations of applications to opponents.
Please remember not to include any unnecessary personal information such as names and addresses in a statutory statement.
We have to send these out using email and to minimise the data risks associated with this we are checking each statutory statement to make sure it does not contain unnecessary personal data. If it does, we need to send it back to you so you can change it.
This causes delay and frustration which we would like to avoid.
If you have email addresses for the applicant and opponent please tell us what they are. However, if you are in any doubt about an email address then you should leave it out of the application.
Sending information via email creates a data risk so we need to be sure that you have given us only up to date and accurate information. If you do have this information then you can tell us using the ‘Details of any other attachments’ field in the CIVSOL application.
This is where you would tell us that there is no third party statement or other useful information. Using this section makes it easy for us to find the addresses.
If you do not have these details make this clear. If you leave this section blank, we will continue to ask for this information.
Where you know a solicitor is acting for the opponent please tell us who it is. Doing so is the best way of notifying an opponent of the application and our decisions.
Please give us the solicitor’s email address if you have it.
For more information: please contact Catriona Whyte at firstname.lastname@example.org