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Legal aid

Posted by Stacey 
Legal aid
August 21, 2023 07:08PM
Good evening

I receive legal aid and am due to attend court is 2 weeks, last week legal aid wanted to reassess my claim. My solicitor has just emailed me and said that legal aid have cancelled my discharged my legal aid certificate with immediate effect my housing benefit has gone up by £10 per week and I’ve taken home an extra £21 a week for 6 weeks to cover the day off I have for court (I only get paid if I work) my solicitor has said that if I receive any money from court I will need to pay the legal aid agency (I have been paying them £80 per month) but they cannot say how much that will be.
Is this correct?

Also my solicitor has said I can employ them on a private basis and pay their fees but the barristers fees but I definitely cannot afford that so I may have to represent myself, all 2 weeks before I attend court.

Any information on where I stand with paying legal aid more or information regarding attending court for divorce/ house would be very much appreciated right now.

Re: Legal aid
August 22, 2023 11:01AM
Well, the first thing it is important you understand is that if you recover any property or anything with any monetary value in your litigation you MUST inform the Legal Aid authorities. That is because you have been in receipt of Legal Aid and the chances are that the Legal Aid bill you have incurred far exceeds your monthly contributions. Legal Aid is not a grant. It is effectively a loan. And in this type of case the Legal Aid authorities recover what they have spent by putting a charge on any property you recover. The point you must understand is that Legal Aid bears interest. That interest rate is currently 8%. Therefore if you did not inform the Legal Aid authorities of what you had recovered in the action and it came to light later the interest charges could be swingeing. Legal Aid is not known for its efficiency so they might not do anything about it for a long time but sooner or later some auditor would pick it up and it would be pursued. You need to know this so what your solicitor has told you is correct. At the conclusion of the case you must tell the Legal Aid people what property or asset you have recovered (if any).

As to the immediate problem, you should inform the other side and the court that you are now acting in person. There is a form for that which you can obtain from the court. This is important because you need to make sure that you receive what is called 'the court bundle' in good time for the final hearing. The other side will supply that to you provided they are informed that you are a litigant in person.

Then it might be wise to get an appointment with Citizens Advice to see if they can put you in touch with anyone who can help you with the court hearing. It is hard to tell whether you have good grounds to seek an adjournment. Perhaps you do but only someone who knows the background and the issues can advise you on that so it is probably a good idea to get in touch with Citizens Advice as soon as possible if you have no-one else you can turn to for help.
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