Legal Aid Financial Criteria
If you are in receipt of Income Support, Income Based Employment Support Allowance, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance or Guarantee Credit then you will automatically qualify on the income part of the assessment. These are known as passporting benefits.
If you are not in receipt of one the above “passporting” benefits then an income calculation will be carried out.
This calculation will take into account ANY regular income that you receive each month e.g. gross earnings, tax credits, benefits (with some exceptions), child and spousal maintenance or financial support from a relative or friend. If your total gross monthly income exceeds £2,657 (unless you have 4 or more children) then you will not satisfy the income criteria.
Once your total gross monthly income has been calculated and you do not exceed the above figure we can then deduct certain expenses e.g. rent/mortgage, tax and national insurance, child allowances. If the final figure is £733 or less you will satisfy the income part of the assessment.
An assessment will then need to be carried out on your capital. This will look at properties owned, savings, stocks, shares and valuable items. If your capital is assessed as being less than £8,000 then you will satisfy the capital part of the assessment.
You must satisfy the criteria for both income AND capital to be eligible for Legal Aid.
We will require proof of ALL your income, capital and outgoings for example:
- Benefit letter dated within the last 6 months confirming which benefit you are in receipt of e.g. Jobseekers Allowance
- Wage slips if you are employed (previous 3 months)
- Invoices to clients if you are self-employed (previous 3 months) and/or cash book
- Tax Return if you are self-employed
- Letter from your accountant confirming your drawings for the last year if you are self-employed
- Private/Occupational Pension documents
- Previous 3 months bank statements for all bank accounts you hold
- Recent tax credit award notice
- Proof of child benefit
- Proof of maintenance payments you receive from your ex-partner
- Proof of financial support you receive from a family member/friend
- Student grant/loan letter
- Proof of rent paid-rent account statement or tenancy agreement or letter from the person you are staying with confirming how much rent you pay them and how i.e. cash in hand/cheque
- Proof of mortgage payments
- Proof of child maintenance payments if you pay them
- Proof of childcare-a letter from your child-minder confirming how much you pay and when/invoice/contract or agreement
- Proof of any capital for example stocks and shares
This list is not exhaustive and proof we require will vary from case to case.
You can see if you are eligible by going to: http://www.justice.gov.uk/legal-aid/assess-your-clients-eligibility/civil-eligibility-calculator
Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
If you qualify based on your income and capital you must now, as of the 1st April 2013, provide evidence to prove that you are or have been the victim of domestic violence or the children involved are victims of domestic violence and you are NOT the perpetrator. This evidence must be from within the last five years.
The definition of domestic violence is
“any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (whether psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between individuals who are associated with each other”
New regulations set out specifically what evidence we can accept to prove you have been or are currently a victim of domestic violence.
For information on what forms the evidence can take and what the evidence must contain please go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/523451/evidence-requirements.pdf
Abuse of a child can include violence, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation of a child under the age of 18. You do not need to be a parent of a child you feel is at risk you just need to be able to prove the child is at risk. In addition to this the evidence requirements do not necessarily need to relate to the child you have concerns about. For example if you have care of your grandson and your daughter is seeking contact but she has been convicted of a child abuse offence relating to another child that is enough to satisfy the evidential requirements.