We are located at:

Smith Dawson Solicitors

8 King Street

Wolverhampton

WV1 1ST

Contact us now:

Telephone: 01902 310007

 

24-hour emergency police station assistance: 07860 632220

 

E-mail:

criminal-department@smithdawson.com

 

family-department@smithdawson.com

 

 

 

Important Financial Information for Public Funded Matters

(Please also read the accompanying sheet on

 the Terms under which we will act for you)

 

 

How are your legal costs going to be paid?

 

On the basis of the financial information you have supplied to me, I have assessed you as being entitled to legal aid under the Legal Help and Help at Court Scheme.  My rates of pay are set either by the Government by way of prescribed rates and standard fees, or by the Court or the Legal Aid Agency on detailed assessment.  Therefore, I shall be paid by reference to the amount of time that is spent on the matter at rates set by the Government or by the Court as the case may be.

 

The Legal Help & Help at Court Scheme does not enable me to represent you at any court hearings or any form of tribunal hearing.  If representation is required, I will consider an application for a full legal aid certificate.  If you receive any correspondence or other communication direct from any other party, please pass it to me immediately and take no further action yourself.

 

What if you need to go to court?

 

You can apply to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) for a Legal Aid Certificate.  Whether you are entitled to this will depend on the merits of your case (how likely you are to succeed) and your financial circumstances.

 

The LAA must be satisfied that this is a case in which you have a reasonable chance of succeeding and that it is one which a person who is not entitled to Legal Aid would be happy to finance from their own pocket.    It must also be satisfied that the benefit to be achieved by you or your family is worth the money the LAA will be expected to pay for your legal fees.    Therefore any proceedings merely being carried out for the sake of opposing the other side will not be funded.

 

As far as your financial circumstances are concerned, if you are receiving Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support or Guaranteed State Pension Credit you are automatically entitled to Public Funding if the merit of your case allows it.   If not, then the LAA will calculate your income to see whether you are entitled.

 

Will you have to pay anything myself?

 

Some people have to pay monthly contributions towards the cost of their Legal Aid.    If you are in receipt of any of the above benefits then this will not apply to you.    Otherwise, if your income is over a certain amount but is not so great as to exclude your entitlement to Legal Aid altogether, then you might have to pay monthly contributions.   If that is the case then you will receive an offer of Legal Aid which will tell you the amount of the monthly contributions you have to pay.

 

Will I have to pay my Legal Costs back?

 

Not usually where your case does not include a claim for money or property.   At present you have told me that it does not.  If, in the course of your instructions, this situation changes, then different rules apply and I will explain them to you.

 

However you would be required to pay your costs back if your Legal Aid is revoked (see below)

 

Could you or your opponent be ordered to pay each other’s costs?

 

In family cases being ordered to pay someone else’s costs is rare, especially if your dispute is over children.   If I considered that there was any likelihood of you or the other party being ordered to pay each other’s costs then I would discuss that with you at that stage and explain it further.

 

How much is your case likely to cost?

 

It is not really possible to give an accurate estimate of final costs at this stage, simply because we do not yet know what is going to be involved.  Some cases settle without much fuss at all and others involve several hearings at court and consideration of complex issues.   However the following is a very rough indication:

 

Matter Type

 

Costs

Out of Pocket Expenses

Divorce involving no issues relating to children or finances and where the other side co-operates throughout

£400 - £600

£340 court fee on presentation of the petition

£45 court fee on applying for decree absolute

 

A dispute over issues relating to contact or residence relating to children with no involvement of expert evidence

 

£600 - £2,000

£200 court fee

Any travelling expenses involved

Possibly barrister’s fees – we would discuss whether such should be instructed

 

A dispute over property and finances

£600 - £5,000

£240 court fee if you are the applicant

Any travelling expenses involved

Any valuation expenses (e.g of property or pensions)

Possibly barrister’s fees – we would discuss whether such should be instructed

 

All of the above figures with the exception of court fees will also attract VAT at 20.0%.

 

These are only very rough estimates and we are obliged to update our estimate to you every six months.  If you cease to instruct us before the conclusion of your matter, we will charge you for the time spend so far.

 

I have a duty throughout your case to advise you if you are likely to be wasting costs on a case where you are unlikely to succeed, or if the costs you are expending are likely to outweigh any benefit you may receive.

 

If you have Legal Aid, why do you need to know how much my case will cost?

 

  • You would be interested to know how much is being spent on costs if you are paying a monthly contribution. 
  • Even if this does not apply, the LAA requires a client to be kept aware of what his or her case is costing.

 

Once granted a Legal Aid Certificate, will you be covered until your case is finished?

 

It is possible for the LAA to revoke or discharge your Legal Aid Certificate before your case is finished.   These are some of the circumstances in which this would happen:

 

  • You no longer have reasonable grounds for pursuing your case
  • You are acting unreasonably by, for example, refusing to accept the recommendations of a CAFCASS Officer in cases involving children.  CAFCASS stands for Children and Family Court Advice and Support Service and they investigate cases involving children and make recommendations to the court as to who should see them or where they should live.
  • You are failing to give me reasonable instructions or accept reasonable advice
  • You have failed to disclose any material circumstances either relating to your case or your financial circumstances
  • You have failed to supply the LAA with information they require
  • You have got into arrears with your monthly contributions
  • Your financial circumstances change and you are no longer eligible under the means test.

 

We are under a duty to advise the LAA in any of the above circumstances.

 

A person whose Legal Aid Certificate is revoked is deemed never to have had it in the first place and is therefore responsible for repaying all the costs which have been incurred from the start.  A person whose certificate is discharged is not entitled to have any further work done for him or her from the date of discharge but may not have to repay the costs already incurred.

 

Mediation

 

Many family and matrimonial cases are suitable for mediation.   A trained mediator would meet with both parties for a series of sessions in which you will be helped to

  • •Identify all the matters you wish to consider
  •  Collect the necessary information
  • •Talk about the choices open to you
  •  Negotiate with each other to reach decisions that are acceptable to you both

If mediation is successful then at the end you will usually have achieved a written summary of the proposals you have reached. This is not a legally binding document and you will need legal advice about it especially if you have reached agreement on financial and property issues.

 

Parties who are applying for Legal Aid  must attempt mediation before Legal Aid will be considered, except in cases where there has been violence or the parties live too far away from each other or a court hearing is imminent.    If we refer you to mediation and the other party refuses to go, then at least you would have attempted it and you will be entitled to Legal Aid provided your case merits it and you are eligible on financial grounds.

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If we are assisting you under the Legal Help scheme then you are already covered for your legal costs for everything except representation at court.  If you need a Legal Aid certificate to take the matter to court,  then it normally takes 6-8 weeks from receipt of your application by the LAA.   People who are in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support tend to have their applications granted more quickly simply because their means do not have to be calculated.

 

If the LAA sends you correspondence asking for further information please answer it straight away.   If you do not answer within 14 days your application will be cancelled and we have to start all over again.

 

Acceptance of this Financial Information and the Terms under which we will act for you

 

Your continued instruction of this firm will amount to acceptance of our terms and conditions of business.

 

Provision of Service Regulation 2009

 

We comply with the above regulations by displaying the required details of our Professional Indemnity Insurance at our office

 

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© Kay Brown (K.Brown@smithdawson.com)