Update on client payments due to the Legal Aid Fund

In our update on 8 April 2020 we told solicitors that if your client was experiencing any difficulties making their payments to us, they should contact our Collections Team and we explained the policies in place to assist during the early stages of the restrictions to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We offered payment breaks without verification and continued to re-assess financial eligibility for those within the computation period. We also paused any use of the statutory provisions to suspend legal aid for non-payment. We also said we would not raise any new enforcement proceedings for non-payment.

Current Position

Very few people have taken advantage of the payment break procedure and many people have continued to make uninterrupted payments.

However, there are some people who we have found it difficult to contact. We know that Covid-19 and the associated restrictions may be impacting on individuals’ financial circumstances.

We have been proactively trying to make contact with clients by telephone or email who have not made payments to find out the reason for non-payment.

There are a number of clients who we have not been able to speak to during this period and we have recently sent letters to them asking them to contact us.

Moving Forward

We will continue to offer payment breaks, although we will ask for information.

We will continue to re-assess eligibility for those within the computation period.

Where your client is still experiencing financial difficulties as a direct result of Covid-19 or the current restrictions they should email our Collections Team at collections@slab.org.uk or call on 0131 560 2116.

When we speak to your client or write to them, we will tell them what they should do if they are unable to make their normal monthly payments.

However, as cases have been progressing over the last few months and court proceedings are continuing, if your client does not pay or does not make contact with us it could now result in legal aid being stopped.

We would therefore ask that you encourage your client to tell us as soon as possible if they are experiencing any financial difficulties as there are options available to those who are facing financial problems because of Covid-19 and the restrictions.

Contact us

If you have any queries about this, please contact Cindy Morrice.

If you have any other suggestions to help your clients during this time, please email us at covid19@slab.org.uk

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