Legal Aid

Notes on legal aid at A2 level

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  • Created by: Jem
  • Created on: 09-05-13 16:57

Civil: Paying privately

·         Can fund a civil action privately, seek legal advice/assistance from solicitor specialising in claims person is pursuing. 

·         Claimant would have to fund work done by solicitor, be regularly billed to keep up to date with costs. 

·         Not attractive; most people can’t afford it.  It’s why CFAs developed.

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Civil: Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

·         More commonly known as ‘no win no fee’
·         First allowed under S.58 Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 in personal injury, insolvency, human rights cases, extended to all civil cases except family by 1998
·         Solicitor and Client agree on fee to be charged
·         Agreement includes details on solicitor’s ‘success fee’; can be an ‘uplift’ up to 100% of agreed normal fee.
·         If claimant successful, losing party will pay costs
·         Access to Justice Act 1999: Courts can order payment of success fee+normal fee by losing party.
·         If claimant loses, will have to pay winner’s costs.  Can take out After The Event insurance, or ATE to protect against this.  Sometimes will have to be paid in advance of case
·         S.29 Access to Justice Act 1999: Courts can order winning party recovers cost of insurance from losing side

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Civil: State/Public Funding

·         Access to Justice Act 1999: Now 2 schemes
·         Community Legal Service: For civil
·         Criminal Defence Service: For criminal
·         Both overseen by Legal Services Commission in foundering.
·         Civil law services funded by Community legal fund.  There is a set limit for fund, certain cases not funded i.e. personal injury through negligence, claims for less than £5000, and most tribunal hearings except those involving human rights.

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Civil: What Legal Aid pays for

·         Different levels of legal aid
·         Legal help: Covers initial advice and help
·         Legal representation: Covers cost of barrister/solicitor representation in court.

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Civil: Who can get Legal Aid?

·         There are two tests.

·         Merits Test: Following points considered:

o   Likely cost of funding case and benefit that can be obtained

o   Amount of money in Community Legal Fund

o   Importance of Matter to individual

o   Availability of other services

o   Likelihood of success in case: public money not wasted on hopeless cases.

·         Means Test: Disposable Income/Capital calculated

o   If both beneath minimum limits, person qualifies

o   If both between min and max limits, person has to contribute to cost

o   If both over max  limit, person doesn’t qualify

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Legal Expenses Insurance

·         Can get advice/assistance through Legal Expenses insurance.
·         Cover available through home insurance/credit card 

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Civil: Advice Agencies

·         Free advice can be obtained from a number of agencies; e.g.
·         Citizens Advice Bureau
·         Law Centres
·         Community Legal Service Web site
·         Bar’s Free Representation Unit; Represents peoples in court for free.

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Criminal Defence Service

·         S.12 Access to Justice Act 1999: Since April 2005, Criminal Defence Service responsible for funding criminal defence

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Duty Solicitor Schemes

·         Scheme for people arrested and held in custody
·         Free; not means tested(no financial criteria)
·         Organised through Defence Solicitors’ Call Centre, Duty Solicitors available 24/7
·         Criminal Defence Service Direct: telephone-only advice for minor crimes
·         Custody officer must inform the person arrested that legal advice is available free/privately
·         Code C: must be a poster in custody suite displaying S.58 PACE right.
·         Also duty scheme at Mag court
·         Can receive free advice on case/be represented under scheme
·         A duty Solicitor must be approved by Legal Services Commission

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Criminal: Advice and Assistance

·         Once released from custody, further preliminary advice/assistance could be obtained at solicitor’s office
·         Solicitor can give general advice, write letters

 ·         This scheme is means tested.

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Criminal: Representation Order

·         Covers representation in court by a solicitor/barrister

·         Criminal Defence Service decides if it is interests of justice for the representation to be paid by the state

·         Five categories considered:

o   Is individual likely to lose liberty/suffer serious damage to reputation

o   Does case involve consideration of substantial point of law

o   Case involves tracing/interviewing/expert cross examination of witnesses

o   Is in the interests of another person that the individual is represented

·         For defendants in Crown/Mag court; is means tested

·         Only qualify for publicly funded representation if on low income; min level is higher if case in Crown Court.

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Criminal: Public Defender Service

·         Has salaried lawyers to represent defendants
·         Initially offices in 8 areas, now 4; not financially viable
·         Criticism: State is prosecuting person through CPS and then defending them through the PDS
·         Person can also choose own solicitor; State will pay as long as solicitor has contract with Criminal Defence Service

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Criminal: Advice Agencies

·         Free advice can be obtained from number of agencies; some specialist, some general e.g.
·         Citizens Advice Bureau
·         Law Centres
·         Bar’s Free Representation Unit; represents people for free in court.

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