Legal Aid liability
Important to make sure your client understands their responsibilities and potential liabilities
When clients are convicted in the Crown Court the LAA must establish whether a Capital Contribution Order should be issued.
This may also be required if the trial judge considers there are exceptional reasons why acquitted individuals should be liable to make payment.
This means any applicant who was not passported – regardless of whether they were asked to pay an income contribution or not – will have their capital and equity assessed.
This could result in clients being asked to pay towards their costs. This is also made clear on the Income Contribution Order or Contribution Notice sent to them after legal aid has been granted.
The LAA contracts with Rossendales Ltd to collect, and where necessary, enforce contributions when clients choose not to pay – whatever the reason.
While it is the responsibility of the client to ensure payment is made, providers can assist by ensuring the client is fully briefed about the:
- potential liability
- importance of making the LAA aware of any change in financial circumstances
- ability to submit hardship review requests
Any money recovered is returned directly to the legal aid fund. So your early intervention in providing advice could:
- help safeguard funds for future provision of advice
- ensure that your client is required to contribute the correct amount
Motor vehicle orders
The Criminal Legal Aid (Motor Vehicle Orders) Regulations 2013 came into force on 20 July 2013.
Where a client refuses to pay following a contribution order, application can be made to take possession of, and sell any car registered in the client’s name.
Funds recovered in this way will also be fed directly into the legal aid fund. Clients should be fully briefed about what the order means and advised that early repayment of costs under the contribution order can avoid the need for vehicles to be seized.
Other enforcement actions
Motor vehicle orders represent an addition to the pre-existing enforcement options;
These include but are not limited to:
- charging order secured against any property owned
- 8% interest on charging orders
- High Court enforcement or distress warrant to visit to client’s home to seize goods to value of order
- third party debt order against any money deposited in an account
- attachment of earnings order
The Crown Court Means Testing scheme is governed by the following sets of regulations atwww.legislation.gov.uk
Lionel Blackman Solicitors Upper Chambers 7 Waterloo Road Epsom Surrey KT19 8AY 01372 728941