In recent years, the number of legal aid solicitors in the UK has dropped dramatically, as government restrictions on access to legal aid have led to fewer and fewer clients being eligible for financial help when involved in legal action. The good news for our clients is that we are still legal aid solicitors, working with clients who are eligible for the financial aid involved and who, in many cases, would otherwise not be able to take the legal action in question.
Our ongoing role as legal aid solicitors is a reflection, in large part, of the fact that we specialise in family law, and that family law cases are amongst those for which legal aid is still offered. The areas in which we work include children disputes, interactions with social services and domestic abuse cases. Our work in these cases is based on a combination of legal expertise, years of experience and an empathetic approach to our clients. We understand that being involved in a legal dispute is a highly stressful process, particularly when it involves issues which impact on family life, and so we always blend our legal advice with emotional support. Working as legal aid solicitors is a large part of this support, as it enables us to offer legal help to clients without them having to worry about costs spiralling out of control.
In simple terms, a client has to meet three criteria. The first of these is that they are financially eligible, meaning they do not have the money to be able to cover the cost of the case themselves. The second is that the case is a strong case which they are likely to win and finally, the case has to be the kind of case for which legal aid is still offered. Our legal aid solicitors are the ideal people to speak to if you’re not sure whether you’ll be eligible for legal aid with regard to some legal action which you wish to launch, or a case in which you’ve already become involved. As well as offering direct one to one advice, our legal aid solicitors will be able to point you in the direction of resources such as government websites upon which the sometimes very complicated rules around legal aid are set out in detail. Speaking to us will still make a huge difference, however, as we’ll be able to interpret the information and advice on these websites in a manner which you’ll find easy to relate to.
In terms of the kind of cases for which legal aid is no longer offered, the list is fairly long and includes the following:
- Most neighbour and boundary disputes
- Conveyancing unless it is connected to an order made in on-going court proceedings
- Writing a will
- Issues of trust law which don’t deal with family disputes
- Negligence claims
- Claims of assault, battery or false imprisonment
- Claims for trespass to goods
- Cases dealing with damaged property
- Company or partnership claims
The family law cases for which you may still be able to claim legal aid include the following:
- Cases involving Social Services – these might include Social Services making an application such as a supervision order, emergency protection order or supervision order in relation to your children. In cases such as these legal aid is automatically available.
- Family injunctions –injunctions of this type might include forced marriage protection orders, occupation orders and non-molestation orders.
- When the individual claimant is a person under the age of 18 who is involved in wider family proceedings.
- Cases which involve international and domestic child abduction, which might include an order to prevent a child being unlawfully removed from the UK.
- Private children disputes, divorce cases and family finance cases in which there is evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse.
If you think the case you’re concerned with might be eligible for legal aid then our legal aid solicitors will explain what the rules are, how they apply to your case and what kind of information you will have to produce in order to demonstrate your eligibility. This will include details of your gross income, your disposable income, any benefits you receive and any capital you have. Some clients with their own homes and jobs might assume that they are not eligible, but it is always worth taking the time to speak to one of our legal aid solicitors to clarify the situation.
If you’d like to find out more about legal aid, please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected] We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. Our first 20 minute appraisal is provided free of charge, and we’ll give you a fixed fee first appointment, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.