WHAT IS LEGAL AID?
Legal aid is a system of government funding for those who cannot afford to pay their own legal costs.
Legal aid is administered by the Legal Aid Agency.
Dowse & Co have had Legal Aid accreditation for many years in housing, family, personal injury and employment work. Our contracts were awarded following in-depth audits by the Legal Aid Agency, who reported that the firm is “well organised and managed”.
WHEN IS LEGAL AID AVAILABLE?
Legal aid remains available for some areas of English law, including Housing and Family law. Legal aid is available for claims for breach of statutory duty, such as children harmed in care. It is not available for most Personal Injury claims and most family divorce. Most claims arising in disputes between businesses are also excluded from legal aid and likewise employment disputes are excluded (except some discrimination claims).
WILL I QUALIFY FOR LEGAL AID?
To obtain legal aid you need to satisfy a merits test and a financial eligibility test.
To pass the financial eligibility test your income and capital needs to be below a certain level. You can check if you are eligible for public funding by using the Gov.uk eligibility calculator or by contacting the Civil Legal Advice direct on 0845 345 4345.
Conditional Fee Agreements (“No Win, No Fee”)
Under a Conditional Fee Agreement we will only charge you for work done on your case if you win. If you win, your opponent will usually agree to pay some of your legal costs or will be ordered to do so, so we can then recover some of our costs from your opponent. You are likely to have to make some contribution towards your legal costs from any compensation recovered. Model Law Society Terms and Conditions apply and we will charge if you are in breach of the Conditional Fee Agreement and we have to abandon the case or if you pull out or cause irrecoverable expense.
In most cases it is possible to arrange an “After the Event” insurance policy to protect you against liability in case your case is lost. Often we can arrange for the insurance policy premium to be payable only at the end of the case and only if you win.
Neither the success fee nor the insurance premium are usually recovered from your opponent if you win the case. Such fees will be deducted from your compensation.
Private Funding Arrangements and Legal Expenses Insurance
We explain how charges are calculated at the outset of the work, who will undertake it and their charging rate - and we provide our best budget estimate of the work or the particular stage we are handling for you.
Where you already have existing legal expense cover we can explain whether your policy is suitable and can be used to fund your legal costs.
Divorce Case Funding
Divorce case funding: some new and affordable alternatives to legal aid
Since 1st April 2013, legal aid to assist clients with divorce proceedings is no longer be available save in very exceptional instances.
For all our clients not eligible for legal aid, we offer a pay-as-you-go package based on an hourly rate for the work that is to be done and provide estimates of costs for the required work with regular reviews of the same to keep you informed. We accept fees by affordable instalments during the lifetime of the case.
For clients who are seeking assistance with divorce or judicial separation only, then we offer a number of affordable and imaginative funding packages :-
1. Full undefended divorce/separation package – Petitioner :
This costs £460 plus VAT and covers consultation in relation to divorce, telephone advice, preparation of court forms and all correspondence with the court when you are the person taking the proceedings. In addition, there are fees charged by the court which currently total £385.00 and are additional to our fees. The total costs including VAT will therefore be £937.
2. Full undefended divorce/separation package – Respondent:
This costs £290 plus VAT and covers consultation in relation to divorce, telephone advice, preparation of forms and all correspondence with the court when you are the person not taking the proceedings. The court does not charge fees for Respondents generally.
3. DIY divorce/separation
We can offer competitive prices for those who only require assistance / guidance in relation to divorce / separation but wish to do the majority of the work themselves.
4. Economy Packages (Means tested)
The removal of legal aid affects clients on low incomes and benefits who are seeking a divorce / separation. Because of our commitment to providing a service to all clients, we now offer the following economy packages:-
This will cost £280 plus VAT and will cover all the work set out in No 1 above. The court does not charge fees for divorce work where a person is on benefits or a low income.
This will cost £150 plus VAT and will cover all the work set out in No 2 above.
In order to be eligible for the discounted package, we will require proof of current income/benefits to assess each person’s eligibility. Eligibility will be on the same basis for clients who would have otherwise been entitled to legal aid if the Government cuts commencing 1st April 2013 had not come into effect.
5. Other family work
The cost of other areas of family work will be dependent upon the nature of the work, the complexity of the case and whether this will involve court proceedings. We are happy to provide an estimate for the same and also confirm our hourly charging rate. We also offer discounted hourly rates for clients that are on low incomes/benefits and that would otherwise be eligible for publicly assisted funding if the restrictions had not come into effect.
Fees quoted are effective as of April 2013.