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Legal Aid & Costs

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST

Paying Privately

We offer fixed fees for dealing with each stage of a case. This provides you with the security of knowing how much the case will cost.  Our fees may be less than the contributions required under a Legal Aid Order.

Representation at the Police Station

Everyone treated as a suspect by the Police is entitled to free representation at the Police Station.


Legal Aid

Magistrates Court

In practice, most people who work struggle to qualify for Legal Aid in the Magistrates Court.

The Detail

Legal Aid is means tested for adults.   Persons under 18 are automatically eligible.  Receipt of some benefits e.g. ESA automatically qualify.  People not on such benefits may qualify.   This depends on their income and that of their partner if they have one.  Adjustments are made for dependants.  Deductions from net income are allowed for housing costs, child care costs together with any maintenance payments made and a living allowance.   The living allowance for a single person is £5,676.00 per annum.  Only these deductions are applied whatever your outgoings may be to calculate a “disposable income” figure.  If this is more than £3,398.00 per annum you fail the means test.

There is a second test called the “interest of justice test” which must be passed.  Does your case justify the expenditure of public money?  There has to be a real risk of custody or some other compelling reason that makes it appropriate for your defence to be funded.  Most road traffic cases fail this test.

Crown Court

Most people will qualify for Legal Aid in the Crown Court provided that:- 

a. They and their partner (if any) have a “Disposable” income of £37,500.00 or less per annum.   That said many people struggle to make the financial contributions required under the Legal Aid Scheme.  The Government’s definition of a “disposable” income may surprise you!; (see below)

b. They have completed and submitted the appropriate Legal Aid forms;

c. They were not refused Legal Aid in the Magistrates Court on the means test and their case has been sent to the Crown Court for sentence alone.

The Detail

Once Legal Aid has been granted it will not be withdrawn unless you request it.  You will then have to pay for the costs incurred.

You may be required to provide further information. If you do not do this in 14 days you will be subject to a penalty of £900.00.  

You may have to make a financial contribution. This is based on what the Government call your “disposable income”.  This figure will not be your idea of your disposable income or what you have left at the end of the month after paying bills.

For example, a single person is allowed £109 per week to live on (including all bills and expenses – but excluding housing costs).  Anything above this is “disposable income”.

You will receive a Contribution Notice. This tells you how much you have to pay. You have a choice whether to continue on legal aid once you receive the Contribution Notice. If you wish you can ask for your legal aid be withdrawn and then represent yourself, or ask us to represent you on a private basis. If you have higher than average outgoings, you can apply to have the contribution reviewed by completing a more detailed means form and providing proof of your outgoings.

If you do nothing your legal aid will continue and the Contribution will be levied. If you later ask for representation order to be withdrawn you will be charged for the work done until that date.

The contribution is a debt between you and the Legal Aid Agency. If you do not pay it, your legal aid will continue regardless. It is collected by debt collectors on behalf of the Agency and as with all debts sometimes they will accept lower monthly payments than the Agency have asked for.

The legal aid calculator can be downloaded from this website. This also has more detailed information on the means test and  contributions towards legal aid

You should not have to make a contribution if you are on benefit or receive no income. 

If you do need to make a contribution, it will be for six monthly payments. Provided that you make the first 5 payments on time the 6th payment will be waived.

If you do not make the payments then the Legal Services Commission will charge you 6% on the outstanding monies.  They will also take enforcement proceedings to cover the contributions which will increase the costs. 

You must inform the Legal Services Commission if your financial circumstances change.  This may affect the contribution payable. Penalties apply if you do not do this.

At the end of your case if you are found or plead guilty the Legal Services Commission will pay your legal costs. If these are less than your contributions they will refund the balance together with interest at 2% per annum.  

If you are convicted and you and your partner have capital (including equity) in excess of £30,000.00 the Legal Aid Agency will require you to pay your defence costs in full.

If you do not provide information concerning your capital the Legal Aid Agency can recover your defence costs from you in full.

If you are found not guilty of all the charges, your contributions will be refunded to you by the Legal Services Commission.

If you are guilty of some but not guilty of other offences, then the Crown Court Judge is required to decide how much of your costs should relate to the guilty matters.  The not guilty portion of the costs should then reduce your final bill. 

You cannot recover any legal costs if you pay for your defence privately in the Crown Court unless you applied for and were refused Legal Aid on financial grounds.

We shall be happy to discuss this with you.

Carlton Place Law 9 Carlton Place,
Southampton,
SO15 2EA

Phone No: 02380 480007

Emergency No: 07747 771302

Email Address: mail@carltonplacelaw.com

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