Legal Representation Certificate
You should check Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 to see if your case is the type of case that can be covered by Legal Aid.
If you are on Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Guarantee Credit or Universal Credit you will qualify immediately for a certificate without having to pay anything. As long as you do not have savings or other property over a certain amount, see below.
If you receive other benefits then whether or not you qualify for Public Funding will depend on how much you receive, but remember you still have to satisfy the merits test, (i.e. you must show that you have good prospects of success).
This test means that in order to be eligible you must not have gross income of more than £2,657 per month. You will then be assessed on your disposable income thereafter.
If you have a disposable income of £311 per month or less then you will be entitled to Public Funding without paying anything for your case.
If at the end of your case you win some money you may have to repay the amount that your case cost, this is known as the "Statutory Charge".
Remember if your partner has income and they are not your opponent then their income will be added to your income when deciding if you are eligible for Public Funding.
If your available income is between £315 - £733 per month then you will still be entitled to Public Funding, but will have to pay a contribution towards your costs, please see below:
Income between £316 - £465 - contribution payable is 35 per cent of your income in excess of £311.
Income between £466 - £616 - contribution payable is £53.90 plus 45 per cent of your income in excess of £465.
Income between £617 - £733 - contribution payable is £121.85 plus 70 per cent of your income in excess of £616.
Remember however that deductions are made for Tax and National Insurance Contributions. Deductions are also made for Council Tax, travel expenses to work, subscriptions to trade unions, maintenance paid for children not living with you, and payments to an occupational pension scheme or personal pension scheme and rent or mortgage payments. (See definition of disposable income).
In addition yearly deductions are made as follows:
Partner £177.50 per month
Dependants aged 15 or under £285.13 per month
Dependants 16 or over £285.13 per month
There may be other deductions which your solicitor can tell you more about, if in doubt you should apply.
If your available income is over £733 per month you will not be eligible.
If you have capital between £3,000 - £8,000 then you will have to pay a contribution towards your costs which is equal either to the amount of capital you have over £3,000 or the likely actual costs of your case, (whichever is the lesser). However, if your capital is between £3,000 - £8,000, but you receive income support or income based jobseekers allowance then you will not have to pay a contribution from your capital.
If you have a house in which you live then the value of the house, (after deduction of the mortgage) can also be regarded as capital. The first £100,000 will not be counted, but any value over this amount will be counted in respect of your share of the house. The full equity value of second homes is considered as capital.
The Legal Aid Agency has a discretion to waive all eligibility limits, (ie. income and capital limits) for the benefit of victims of domestic violence who are seeking protection from the court. However, contribution payments cannot be waived.