Implications of legal aid
Produced in partnership with David Salter of Deputy High Court judge and Recorder

The following Family practice note produced in partnership with David Salter of Deputy High Court judge and Recorder provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Implications of legal aid
  • Limitations on costs orders
  • End of costs protection
  • Costs orders against the Lord Chancellor

Implications of legal aid

Failure to advise on legal aid eligibility may amount to negligence, even where a firm does not carry out legal aid work, and a client’s potential eligibility for legal aid must be considered at the outset of the case. In David Truex Solicitor (a firm) v Kitchin, the court found, in relation to costs, that the client had not been advised about the availability of legal aid at the earliest opportunity. It was emphasised that a solicitor must consider eligibility at the outset. The client was entitled to claim back all monies paid to the solicitors in fees, save for a small sum paid for the initial conference. See Practice Note: Taking initial instructions from family clients.

From 25 November 2019, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations 2019 are in force, replacing the SRA Handbook and Code of Conduct 2011. Mandatory outcomes and non-mandatory indicative behaviours are replaced with a more principles-based regulatory scheme.

Practitioners must consider and take account of their client’s attributes, needs and circumstances.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regime 2019 for family lawyers.

Major changes were introduced to the legal aid scheme with effect from 1 April 2013. Legal aid is now only available in very limited circumstances for family cases, largely where there is domestic abuse (with limitations) and in public children cases

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