Civil legal aid applications – tips for providers
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has shared a flowchart of how it processes applications from civil legal aid providers.
The LAA may vary the order in which it considers an application’s means and merits.
- For substantive applications, the LAA will look at means-testing first
- If the application includes delegated functions, the LAA will deal with merits first
The LAA has published guides on assessments and contributions, including:
- how to start a re-assessment
- using the financial eligibility tool
When making the case for an asset to be valued equitably on the basis that it’s trapped or inaccessible, take a two-pronged approach to explain how your client’s:
- asset(s) are trapped / inaccessible
- Convention rights and / or right of access to justice would be affected if they do not receive legal representation
To submit your application:
- set out your case under the heading ‘Trapped Capital / Inaccessible Capital’ within the further information section at the end of the means report, or
- upload a separate document outlining your case to CCMS or ‘Apply’
- you reference the appropriate case, for instance: R (GR) v Director of Legal Casework [2020) EWHC 3140 (Admin)
- the information is easily accessible and identifiable – this will allow a faster decision
Providing this information early reduces the need for further information requests and post-assessment reviews.
For more detail:
- read the practical advice and case study
- watch a webinar on the process (for trapped capital, start at 13:45)
Common issues included merits applications relating to:
If you’ve uploaded the applicant’s statement to court and it does not detail any recent police involvement, you should provide details on police involvement in the merits report or on a separate document.
It’s important to comply with paragraph 10.29 of the Lord Chancellor’s LASPO guidance.
For injunction proceedings under part 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, apply for representation under your residual legal aid contract – not under housing.
You’ll need to select the nuisance matter type.
Funding for respondents to committal applications is under criminal legal aid and not civil legal aid.
The following are funded under civil legal aid:
- applicants for committal
- respondents to enforcement applications where liberty is not at stake
When applying for representation in housing possession proceedings, make sure you give a detailed statement of case and all relevant supporting evidence.
This should include the following:
- particulars of claim/claim form
- statement/affidavit in support
- any notice to quit/notice seeking possession
- the statement setting out details of your client’s defence
Appeals to the county court under section 204 of the Housing Act 1996
The correct proceeding option to select is “Homelessness-Housing Act 1996-Housing”.
Ongoing care proceedings and deprivation of liberty orders
An application for a deprivation of liberty order can be added to an existing Special Children Act (SCA) certificate if it is:
- to be heard within ongoing care proceedings
- under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court
You’ll need to add a hearing limitation and free-type the proceeding wording.
If the application is timetabled separately from care proceedings, you’ll need to submit a means and merits application for inherent jurisdiction application.
Section 37 reports
In private law proceedings under the Children Act 1989, legal aid is available for section 37 reports where the court directs the local authority to report on a child’s circumstances.
The client may apply for legal aid funding limited to producing the section 37 report, under paragraph 1(b) of schedule 1, part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).
On the application, select “Children – Miscellaneous Proceedings, Represented”.
If the local authority does not bring its own proceedings once the report has been filed, the legal aid funding will come to an end.
If the local authority does bring proceedings, you’ll need to submit a separate application for legal aid in Special Children Act proceedings.
Cross-border rights access to a child
If you are representing an applicant in proceedings relating to article 21 of the Hague Convention 1980 and providing a letter from the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU), you should select “Section 8 Child Arrangement (contact) Order for Full Representation limited to Final Hearing” when you apply via the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS).
If you think the LAA has made a mistake in processing an application, amendment or means assessment on the CCMS, use the Civil Application Fixer Service.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with:
- the case reference
- why you believe an error has been made
The LAA aims to review submissions within 24 hours (Monday to Friday) and if it agrees there has been an LAA error, it will rectify this as soon as possible.
You can use the service for issues including:
- incorrectly rejected or refused applications
- if you believe information provided has not been considered in the decision
- requested documents or information have already been provided
- if the requested cost limit is not granted when delegating
- where COVID-19 contingency arrangements have not been followed