We know that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing hardship for people and many of your clients will have seen changes in their financial circumstances, including reductions in income and loss of employment.
We’re doing what we can to help people in those circumstances who make payments to the Legal Aid Fund.
This will apply to all types of payments made as a result of:
Below is information about the steps your clients should follow in the event they are unable to meet their payments during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We’ve published similar information for the public on our website. Please make your clients aware of this information.
If any of your clients are worried about being able to make a payment, they should contact us as soon as possible. They should contact the Collections Team – full public contact details are available on our Contact us page.
If someone fails to make an expected monthly payment, we will contact them directly via telephone or email to find out if their difficulties are as a result of Covid-19. We will not issue arrears or pre-suspension letters.
If your client tells us that they have had a change in financial circumstances or cannot afford to pay because of Covid-19 we can, depending on the stage of their case, either re-assess their eligibility, or offer a payment break, or reduce the monthly payments.
If there is a change of circumstances during the computation period, we can re-assess eligibility and adjust the contribution amount. We will freeze the requirement for payments while we re-assess.
If the change of circumstances occurs outwith the computation period, then we can offer a payment break or reduce the monthly payments. The total contribution level cannot itself be reduced outwith the computation period.
Any payment break will be for three months, after which the position will be reviewed. We will not ask to see evidence of the change.
Solicitors will be able to continue doing work under the grant of legal aid during the payment holiday.
During this period civil legal aid will not be suspended or terminated for non-payment of a contribution.
No steps to enforce payment will be taken for the next 3 months, at which point we will review the position. We will not raise court action for payment, or seek to enforce any decree we have not yet actioned.
We hope that these steps will help your clients.
If you have any queries about this, please contact Cindy Morrice – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any other suggestions to help you clients during this time, please email us at email@example.com