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Legal Aid

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Legal Aid

In criminal proceedings, you may be entitled to legal aid to cover the costs of your representation. We hold a contract with the Legal Aid Agency for the delivery of legally aided criminal defence work. We must make clear that legal aid is not necessarily “free” and not everyone is entitled to be granted legal aid. Legal aid is subject to passing an “interests of justice test” (i.e. is the case “serious” enough to justify the grant of public funds towards your defence?) and a “means test”.

In the Magistrates Court you either qualify for legal aid on means or you do not. Generally speaking people in receipt of state benefits or on a very low annual income will qualify automatically. If you earn over the upper threshold in the region of £23,500 per annum you will not qualify. In between and you will be subject to a full means test. Please note that not all of your household and living expenses will be allowed in determining your eligibility.

In the Crown Court generally all applicants for legal aid are entitled unless your annual disposable household income exceeds £37,000 (approx). However if your disposable income is less than this or your capital exceeds £30,000 you may be required to make a contribution towards the cost of your case.

Further information can be found here.

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There are two types of contribution:

(i) income contribution: calculated as a lump sum from disposable income and payable in full as a lump sum at the start of the case or by five equal monthly instalments during the life of the case (if you miss an instalments you may be require to pay a sixth). Payment of the income contribution caps your contribution regardless of the final costs (subject to the capital contribution below). If the costs are less than the contribution you have made you will be refunded the difference plus interest. If you are acquitted after trial then the money paid will be refunded in full with interest.

(ii) capital contribution: if your capital exceeds £30000 (including capital tied up in your home) you may be required, at the point of conviction only, to make a further contribution up to the total costs of the case or your available capital, whichever is the lesser. This contribution is administered by the Legal Aid Agency after the case has finished and if you wish to challenge it there are strict time limits that apply.