||Details of the Legal Aid scheme are set out below:-
||At the Police Station – Advice and assistance whilst someone is detained at a police station is always free whether that advice is given face-to-face or over the telephone. The Legal Aid Scheme for police station attendance will pay our costs. It does not matter how much your income is or how much you have in savings.
||Whilst on Police Bail – There is no Legal Aid Scheme to pay for our costs outside the police station whilst you are on Police Bail. However, we will be happy to discuss a private fee paying arrangement if any work is necessary. If you require advice, assistance or preparation work at this stage of your case, please discuss this with your caseworker
||At the Magistrates’ Court – If you have been charged with an offence(s) or received a summons to attend court we may be able to ask the Court to grant you Legal Aid, this is called a Representation Order. If an Order is made then the government will pay your legal costs. This will allow us to do all of the work necessary to deal properly with your case, including representing you at court and advising you on any appeal if necessary.
||A Representation Order is only granted if the case is serious enough (the merits test) and you qualify financially (the means test). We will advise you as to whether or not you will qualify for a Representation Order. We will also advise you how to appeal any refusal to grant you a Representation Order if necessary.
||If you are under 18 or you receive any of the following benefits; job seekers’ allowance; guaranteed state pension credit or income related employment and support allowance you will automatically qualify for Legal Aid on the means test, however, your case must still pass the merits test.
||If you do not automatically qualify for Legal Aid on the means test, if, for example, you are working or are self-employed then in order to make an application for Legal Aid you (and your partner) must provide us with the following as soon as possible; National Insurance Number; recent wage slips/business accounts; proof of rent/mortgage payments; last three months bank statements.
||If you do not qualify for Legal Aid then we will be happy to discuss with you a private fee paying arrangement. Please note that if you are refused Legal Aid and you do not wish to pay us privately then we have no obligation to conduct work or to attend court on your behalf.
||You must attend court whether or not you are granted Legal Aid.
||At the Crown Court – If your case goes to the Crown Court for trial you will automatically qualify for a Representation Order once you have completed your application form. After you have been means tested, you may have to pay towards the costs of your defence. This could be from your income while the case is on-going and/or from your capital if you are convicted or plead guilty.
||You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets. If you do not, your payments could be increased which would result in you paying more towards your defence costs. You must be truthful in your answers on the application form for Legal Aid. If you lie about your income, assets and expenditure then you may be prosecuted separately for an offence.
||You may have to pay towards the costs of your defence if your monthly disposable income is above a certain level. If this is the case, you will receive a Contribution Order from the court and you will have to make payments as set out in the Order. The first payment will be due within 28 days of your case being committed, sent or transferred to the Crown Court.
||You must tell the court about any changes to your financial circumstances during your case which may affect the amount that you have to pay under a Contribution Order. If you don’t think that you can afford to pay, or, you think that a mistake has been made you can ask for a review of the amount of the Contribution Order.
||If, at the end of the case you are found not guilty, any payments that you have made under the Contribution Order will be refunded to you with interest. If you made any late payments or no payments at all and action was taken against you then the costs of that action will be deducted from any amount to be refunded to you.
||If, at the end of the case you are found guilty, you may have to pay towards the costs of your defence from any capital assets that you have. This only applies if you have £30,000 or more of assets (e.g. savings, equity in property, shares etc), and any payments that you have already made do not cover the entirety of the costs of your defence. We will advise you at the end of your case whether this applies to you.
||If granted Legal Aid you have certain duties which include:-
- Telling the court immediately if you change your address;
- Dealing quickly with any request from us or the court for information. If you try to hide information from the court then your Representation Order may be revoked and you will have to pay any costs incurred up to the point that it was taken away;
- You must not ask us to deal with your case in a way which caused unnecessary expense to the Legal Aid fund.