Significant changes were made to the public funding regime for family cases (known as Legal Aid), which became effective on 1st April 2013 due to the enactment of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). All firms and potential clients are to be subject to these changes.
The only circumstances in which Legal Aid is available are as follows:-
- You need to apply for an Injunction following assault, battery or false imprisonment;
- You are already undergoing Mediation;
- You are in possession of evidence where there has been domestic violence or that you were at risk of being a victim of domestic violence within the last 24 months. Domestic violence is defined as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse, whether psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional between individuals who are associated with each other.
All of the above circumstances are subject to means assessment and the terms of the interests of justice test.
These changes will not affect Care Proceedings and other Public Law proceedings which are brought by a Local Authority. If you are a parent or someone with parental responsibility, you will be entitled to public funding in these circumstances. If you are not a parent or do not have parental responsibility, your means will be assessed and you may need to contribute towards your funding.
If you feel that you may need Legal Aid to start court proceedings, please contact us and make an appointment with Kath Hill or Allan Devine so that we can assess your circumstances and advise you accordingly.