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 funding under the Legal Help Scheme.  My rates of pay are set by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).  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.

 

We would not normally represent you at court under the Legal Help Scheme.  If representation is required, I will consider an application for a full public funding (legal aid) certificate.

 

The Legal Help Scheme enables me to write letters, see you in the office, complete form and discuss your matter with the other side.    We are encouraged to try to settle your matter under the Legal Help Scheme without having to go to court if this is at all possible.

 

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 (i.e. how likely you are to succeed) and your means (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.   

 

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 Legal Aid if the merit of your case allows it.   If not, then the LAA will calculate your income and capital to see whether you are entitled.

 

Will you have to pay anything yourself?

 

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 you have to pay your Legal Costs back?

 

If your case concerns a claim for money or property, or if someone is claiming money or property from you, then your legal costs may have to be repaid to the LAA.  This is called the Statutory Charge.  If we succeed in getting money or property for you, this is known as recovering property.   If we succeed in fending off someone else’s claim over your money or property, this is known as preserving property.

 

Here are some examples:

 

Example 1

 

You are claiming £10,000 from your former spouse for your 50% share of an endowment policy which was surrendered.   He or she argues that you are entitled to nothing, or to less than half.   We succeed in obtaining that £10,000 either by negotiation or by arguing in court.  The legal fees for doing so amounted to £700.    You would receive £9,300 because we “recovered” money for you.    The remaining £700 would be paid back to the LAA.

 

Example 2

 

Your spouse is claiming £10,000 from you because it is you who received the money from the endowment policy.   We succeed in fending off that claim either by negotiation or by succeeding in court.   Your fees amounted to £1,100.  You must pay £1,100 to the LAA because we “preserved” property for you.

 

Example 3

 

The former matrimonial home is in the joint names of yourself and your spouse.  You are arguing for a 50/50 split.  Your spouse wants 75%.   We succeed in getting a 50/50 split either by negotiation or by taking the matter to court.   You have “preserved” the 25% share that your spouse wanted.   Your fees amounted to £1,500.   You must pay £1,500 to the LAA.

 

Example 4

 

You tell us that you want a 50% share of a joint savings account you held with your spouse.    We write and ask for this.  Your spouse immediately agrees.   You do not have to pay anything to the LAA because there was no dispute.

 

If what you have recovered or preserved is a home for yourself or your children, or money to buy a home for yourself and/or your children then repayment can be delayed until that home is sold.  However the LAA would want a charge registered against your property, which is similar to a mortgage, and interest would be payable on the sum outstanding at the rate of  8% p.a.

 

The Statutory Charge applies mainly where you have a Legal Aid Certificate.  Occasionally it will also apply to your Legal Help costs if your matter goes on to be funded by a full certificate.    It can apply to your Legal Help costs even if you do not go on to have a full certificate where we have had to carry out a lot of work for you.    If what you recover or preserve is a home for yourself and you have not had the benefit of a full certificate then the statutory charge does not apply to your Legal Help costs.    I know this is terribly complicated and therefore I will be discussing the statutory charge further with you if it applies in your case.

 

Remember that in all cases it only applied where you recover or preserve money or property so if your case does not involve this, you will not have to worry.

 

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

 

In family cases this is quite rare, especially if your dispute is over children.   Even if your dispute is over money or property the court only tends to make one party pay the other’s costs if he or she has conducted the proceedings in a dishonest way or has caused an increase in the costs by conducting the matter in an excessively obstructive way.  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

£150 - £400

Court fees are waived or reduced if your financial circumstances merit this.

 

 

A dispute over issues 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 the LAA for the time spent so far and the statutory charge (see above) might apply.

 

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

 

  • You may have to repay your costs to the LAA if the Statutory Charge applies (see above). 
  • You would also be interested to know how much is being spent on costs if you are paying a monthly contribution. 
  • Even if neither of these applies, 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 a reasonable offer of money or property or 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 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.

 

Mediation

 

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

  • Identify all the matters that you would wish to consider
  • Collect all the 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. Thus 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 a full legal aid certificate  (i.e. where we have not been able to settle your matter at the legal help stage) 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 too mediation and the other party refuses to go, then at least you will have attempted it and you will be entitles to legal aid provided your case merits it and you are eligible on financial grounds

 

How long will your legal aid application take?

 

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 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 then your application will e cancelled and we will 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

 

Print Print | Sitemap
© Kay Brown (K.Brown@smithdawson.com)