Civil legal aid applications – tips for providers

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has shared some guidance and tips for solicitors submitting an application for civil legal aid.

In March 2021, some common issues included merits applications relating to:

  • non-molestation orders
  • anti-social behaviour injunction breaches
  • committals
  • housing
  • children

Find out how to challenge an LAA decision if you think an error has been made

See a flowchart of the application process

Non-molestation orders

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.

Anti-social behaviour injunction breaches

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.

Read the LAA guidance for legal aid providers

Committal

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

Housing

Possession

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”.

Children

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).

To make sure your application is identified correctly, email Peter Reed, Stephen Spittlehouse or Pamela Read.

Challenging a decision

On 1 February 2021, the LAA launched a new service for civil legal aid providers to help reduce appeals and save time during the initial decision-making stages of applications.

Law firms and other civil legal aid providers can use the Civil Application Fixer service, if you think the LAA has made a mistake in processing an application, amendment or means assessment on the CCMS.

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.

Examples of issues the process can be used for include:

  • 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

How to use fixer

If you believe the LAA has made an error, email applicationfixer@justice.gov.uk with:

  • the case reference
  • why you believe an error has been made

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