St Martin's House, 63 West Stockwell St. Colchester, CO1 1HE
Tel: 01206 577676, Fax: 01206 548704

The Chestnuts, 4 Stortford Road, Great Dunmow, Essex, CM6 1DA
Tel: 01371 873277, Fax: 01371 859232

Main Website: www.goodyburrett.co.uk
Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm    Saturday 9am - 1pm

Will I be eligible for Legal Aid?

Whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid depends on a number of factors. Firstly, you will need to provide evidence that there has been domestic abuse or that there is a risk of a child suffering harm.

Where there is domestic abuse:

Where there has been domestic abuse you will need to provide ONE of the following to show this:

  1. Evidence that your partner/former partner has a relevant unspent conviction for a domestic violence offence.
  2. Evidence that there is a police caution against your partner/former partner for a domestic violence offence which was given within the last 24 month period.
  3. Evidence of relevant criminal proceedings against your partner/former partner for a domestic violence offence which has not yet concluded.
  4. A protective injunction against your partner/former partner which is in force or which was granted within the last 24 month period.
  5. An undertaking given by your partner/former partner in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland provided that you have not given a cross-undertaking.
  6. A letter from the chair of a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) confirming that you have been referred as a high risk victim of domestic violence with evidence that the conference took place within the last 24 month period.
  7. A copy of a Finding of Fact made against your partner/former partner in proceedings in the UK within the last 24 month period.
  8. A letter or report from a health professional who has examined you within the last 24 month period confirming that you have/have had injuries or a condition consistent with those of a victim of domestic violence and further that the health professional has no reason to believe that the injuries were not caused by domestic violence.
  9. A letter from a Social Services Department confirming that within the last 24 month period you have been assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of domestic violence by your partner/former partner or alternatively a copy of Social Services assessment confirming this.
  10. Evidence that you have been admitted to a domestic violence support organisation for a period of at least 24 hours within the last 24 month period.

You may need to write to obtain the evidence set out above. You can find standard letters to assist you on the Ministry of Justice website:
www.justice.gov.uk – Legal aid for private family matters

Where there is a risk of a child suffering harm:

Where a child is at risk of abuse you will need to provide ONE of the following to show this:

  1. A relevant unspent conviction for a child abuse offence.
  2. A relevant police caution for a child abuse offence within the 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the application (this can be in relation to any child, not just the child who is the subject of the application).
  3. Evidence of relevant criminal proceedings for a child abuse offence which have not concluded.
  4. A relevant protective injunction which is in force or which was granted within the 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the application.
  5. A copy of a Finding of Fact, made in proceedings in the United Kingdom made within the 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the application, of abuse of a child by an individual other than the applicant for Civil Legal Services.
  6. A letter from a Social Services Department confirming that within the 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the application the client was assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of child abuse by the other party.
  7. A letter from a Social Services Department confirming that, within the 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the application, a Child Protection Plan was put in place to protect the child from abuse or a risk of abuse by the other party or a copy of the plan.
  8. An application for an Order for a protective injunction made with an application for a Prohibited Steps Order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 (a) which has not, at the date of the application for Civil Legal Services, been decided by the Court.

You may need to write to obtain the evidence set out above. You can find standard letters to assist you on the Ministry of Justice website:
www.justice.gov.uk – Legal aid for private family matters

Financial Eligibility

If you satisfy the above we will then need to assess whether you eligible financially and we will advise you as what evidence you will need provide. This will depend on your circumstances.

Is Legal Aid free?

There is a common misconception that Legal Aid is always free. Sometimes it will be free, however, there are essentially three possible ways that you may have to pay some or all of your Legal Aid.

  1. If you are offered a Legal Aid Certificate, you may be asked to pay a one off lump sum (capital contribution) before your Legal Aid Certificate starts;
  2. Again, if you are offered a Legal Aid Certificate, you may be asked to pay a monthly instalment from your income until your case finishes;
  3. At the end of the case, if you have “recovered” (acquired) or “preserved” (kept) money or property that was in dispute during your case, your Legal Aid fees will have to be repaid by you. In some cases (mostly concerning finances) Legal Aid acts as a loan that requires repayment at the end of your case. This is known as the Statutory Charge.

We will advise you as to whether it is likely that you will have to pay for your Legal Aid depending on your circumstances.