An individual will receive free advice if they have requested us specifically without requesting a Duty Solicitor or have not used another firm previously. Private Rates apply in all others circumstances or indeed if an individual wishes to instruct us privately from the outset.
Merits and Means Testing Legal Aid
If your case is seen as warranting free legal advice you must fulfil the criteria for interests of justice, which ranges from:
- A potential risk of Custody
- Being in Breach of an Order
- Complex area of law
- Case needing Expert cross-examination
- Witnesses that have to be traced
- It is in the interests of justice for other people to be represented
If your case features the above then there is a strong chance you will satisfy the test for legal aid in which the assessment is that, it is in the interests of justice for an individual to be represented.
An individual would then have to satisfy the Means Test:
- If an adult is on a “passported benefit” then they will automatically satisfy the Means Test.
- If an adult is not on benefits and they have evidence of fact that their income is less than approximately £13,000 per annum i.e. wage slips, income from other sources for example student loans etc, then they will satisfy their Means Test.
An individual with an income over £13,000 may still satisfy the Means Test if they can show they have the necessary expenditure over the specified threshold and document these expenses.Alternatively, an individual will have to privately fund their representation. Private rates can be provided by contacting us directly. If you pay privately and you are acquitted, then you may be entitled to recover your costs (at legal aid rates only). Further details can be provided on request.
A new system of Means Testing has recently been introduced in the Crown Court. If you are claiming a “passported benefit”, then you will automatically qualify for legal aid. Alternatively you may have to make a contribution to your defence costs if you are in employment or are receiving a specified income.
If you are successfully acquitted in the Crown Court, then you will get back any contributions you have made, with interest unless you have disposable income/assets over the prescribed amount (currently £37,000), in which case you will have to pay privately and will receive a reimbursement up to the amount you would’ve had to have paid on legal aid, if acquitted.