From 1st April 2013 Legal Aid will change significantly. In most areas of private family law legal aid will no longer be available regardless of financial circumstances. There will be some limited exceptions to this, principally:
- Applications for injunctions for protection from domestic violence.
- Cases where the applicant is the victim of domestic violence, to be proved by certain stringent evidence.
- Exceptional cases (Likely to be narrowly defined)
If, on or after 1st April 2013 you are in receipt of Legal Aid through a “Legal Aid Certificate” that will continue. However if there is a change in your financial circumstances after that date your eligibility will be re-assessed against more stringent rules and you may find that you have to pay or pay more towards your legal aid each month.
If, on or after, 1st April 2013 you are in receipt of Legal Aid under the Legal Help scheme again that will continue. However that does not cover representation in court proceedings – this would normally be funded by a Legal Aid Certificate. However after 1st April 2013 you will not be able to apply for a Legal Aid Certificate unless you fall within one of the exceptions listed above.
Unless you fall within one of the exceptions above any application for either level of Legal Aid must be completed and lodged before 1st April 2013. After that date you will not be eligible for Legal Aid and if you want to be represented by a solicitor will have to fund that yourself.
It can take time to prepare an application for a Legal Aid Certificate. If you want to pursue a case funded by Legal Aid it is important that you contact us urgently.
These changes do not affect legal aid in public law child care proceedings which will continue to be available.