Legal procedures cost the UK billions of pounds each year. Putting things into perspective, in 2017 alone, HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service) had an annual expenditure of £1.8 billion and employed 16,320 staff. For individuals going to court, this can be a huge financial burden.
To help with this expenditure, legal aid is available to certain individuals. Legal aid can help with the costs of legal advice, representation in a court/tribunal and even family meditation. However, this aid is not available for everyone. There is certain criteria that must be met to qualify for legal aid. Depending on your specific situation, there will be a set amount of financial support you will be eligible for.
It is vital that you are aware of whether legal aid you maybe eligible for legal aid prior to beginning any court or tribunal procedure. The following information will serve as a guide on what is the legal aid eligibility criteria and how Maidstone solicitors can help you.
What is Legal Aid?
Legal aid is financial support available to help with various aspects of court and tribunal procedures. In order to qualify for financial aid, you will have to prove various things to meet the eligibility criteria.
In summary, the criteria for obtaining legal aid is proving that your issue is serious enough to go to court and that you cannot afford to pay for legal costs on your own. You may also be required to reimburse some money towards the legal costs of your case back at a later date.
However, the specifics of each situation are obviously more nuanced than this. Some of the common instances in which you can qualify for legal aid include (but are not limited to):
- Where there is significant risk of losing your home and/or homelessness
- Yourself or your family are at risk of abuse or serious harm (e.g. domestic abuse or cases or forced marriage)
- You have been or are being discriminated against due to race, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical disability or gender
- You are facing prison or detention as a result of being accused of a crime
- Where family mediation is deemed to be necessary (e.g. partners going through a divorce with children)
- You want to appeal or challenge against a decision the government or a public body has made against you (e.g. through a judicial review)
- Where you require representation at a mental health tribunal or inquest
Will Legal Aid Cover the Whole Costs?
Maybe. The majority of cases result in the individual either having to pay some proportion of the costs upfront or alternatively paying back some of the cost if you win money or property from the case. However, full cover is available in some specific circumstances.
There will be a charge or claim made against any money or property that you resultantly win in a case funded by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) – this is known as the ‘statutory charge’. In cases in which this is your home, payment will often be deferred. This will then result in the debt being placed as a charge on your home, similar to a mortgage.
Criminal cases, which fall under the category of public law, work somewhat differently to others in regards to legal. Essentially, if you’re questioned at a police station then you’ll be entitled to free legal advice. Those under 16 (or under 18 still in full-time education) will be automatically entitled to legal aid for legal representation in court as well.
How Does Funding Work with Private Solicitors?
Many individuals going through legal and court procedures choose to work with experienced private solicitors who can guarantee the best results from your case. However, it is a common misconception that these engender the best results and also that they will necessarily have to pay the highest price.
The services of solicitors is still available for those seeking legal aid. RKB Law Maidstone Solicitors holds a contract with the Legal Aid Agency in Community Care law which means you can receive free funding if you qualify for legal aid in this area of law which includes cases concerning representation in the Court of Protection and Administrative Court.
This will allow us to represent you lawfully and produce the best possible results from your case. In order to discover if you are eligible for this free funding, you will need to apply for approval from the UK Government’s Legal Aid Agency.
Our friendly team are on hand to explain how Legal Aid scheme work and whether you qualify to receive this. It is also worth knowing that non-means-tested Legal Aid is available for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DOLS) cases under Section 21A of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
For any advice or guidance regarding the legal aid eligibility criteria and whether you could receive expert legal advice from our Maidstone solicitors, contact us today.
What If I Don’t Qualify for Legal Aid?
For those who are not entitled to legal aid, this does not necessarily mean that the professional help of an expert solicitors is no longer an option. Ultimately, the total price will be dependent on the specifics of the case and the experience of the fee earner carrying out the work.
The following provides a guide to applicable hourly rates for expert Maidstone solicitors legal advice:
|Grade||Experience||Cost Per Hour|
|Grade A||Solicitors and legal executives with over 8 years’ experience||£200 per hour|
|Grade B||Solicitors and legal executives with over 4 years’ experience||£160 per hour|
|Grade C||Other solicitors or legal executives and fee earners of equivalent experience||£130 per hour|
|Grade D||Trainee solicitors, paralegals and other fee earners||£140 per hour|
RKB Law maidstone solicitors will advise you of the likely cost straight from the beginning, meaning you are never kept in the dark regarding any final prices. You will also be kept informed of progress throughout your case and we will let you know immediately if the estimate of costs that were initially given have to be revised for any reason.
To help you better understand the financial options available, RKB Law offer a free initial consultation for assessment of your case.
How RKB Law Can Help You
Affordability is a big concern for most people who require the services of a Maidstone solicitors. Operating in the Maidstone and Kent area, RKB Law we pride ourselves on providing transparent, price-efficient and good value solicitors services for all of our clients.