Law Essays – Legal Funding Service

Legal Funding Service

Task One

Introduction to legal funding

In 1951 legal aid was introduced to help individuals who could not afford legal assistance. It quickly became very popular and benefited those who were less fortunate and in need to legal aid, however, it hugely affected the government’s budget.

In 2000-20001 the financial strain on the government became too much and changes were needed. The first change in 2000 was the creation of The Community Legal Service (CLS), this sector dealt with all civil matters such as family breakdown, debt and housing. In 2001 The Criminal Defence Service (CDS) was introduced, this was to deal with all criminal matters such as people who are under police investigation or facing criminal charges.

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Both the CLS and CDS are overseen by the Legal Services Commission. The new system was put in place so that single individuals would be assessed and categorised to see if they qualify for any form of legal aid.

There are now many different public funding schemes, and each scheme has different rules, eligibility criteria and application procedures, this has helped to lower the budget and see who really required legal aid.

The Legal Services Commission

The LSC deal with legal aid in England and Wales, they are there to ensure that people get the best information, advice and legal help that they need to deal with the vast amount of legal problems, both civil and criminal.

They aim to help clients address their problems and get them the help that they need. Each year 2 million people get assist through the Legal Services Commission.

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The legal aid scheme is in place to help societies most venerable and disadvantaged people. The legal aid scheme provides high quality advice, information and representation to people who wouldn’t people able to afford it without legal aid.

The criminal defence service

The criminal defence service is managed by the Legal Services Commission; they guarantee that criminal offenders under investigation get advice, representation, and assistance. The CDS also offer help to police stations and courts, to help them operate efficiently and fairly.

Duty Solicitor Schemes

This scheme is provided by the criminal Defence service. A duty solicitor is based in police stations and magistrates courts. They are there to inform the detainee of their rights that they have. The service is free and is usually provided by private practice solicitors. For minor offences the detainee will usually be informed of their rights via a telephone conversation, unless on the off chance the duty solicitor is in the station, which then they may request face-to-face advice. They are also eligible for face-to-face advice if there is to be an interview held, or if the detainee I sunder the age of 18 or classed as venerable.

Voluntary Sectors

There are many other outlets of advice that you can get that you don’t need to pay for such as;

  • Citizens Advice Bureaux

There are many CAB outlets throughout England and Wales giving free legal advice. They are mainly located in high streets and other locations that are easy to access such as hospitals and health centres. CAB advice is free, impartial, independent, and confidential and provided by trained volunteers.

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The CAB deal with around 6 million enquiries a year which is estimated to be one-third of legal issues. The main 5 issues that the CAB deals with are Benefits, Debt, Employment, Housing and Legal.

  • Law Centers

There are approximately 60 law centres throughout the UK providing free legal, independent advice to the most disadvantages individuals in our society. Law Centers provide help in solving everyday problems, such as getting decent housing, dealing with discrimination, or obtaining the correct benefits.

  • Trade Unions

Trade unions can offer advice regarding employment law issues. They are increasingly being able to offer a further range of other advice.

  • Charities

Many charities offer advice that relates to their area of work.

Private Funding

Private funding is another way of paying for solicitor fees. If you choose to use a method of private funding, you are essentially paying for it yourself and you must pay out for the full cost incurred. A solicitor will charge a fixed hourly fee for the work they do, and they may require a deposit before they undertake any work.

In civil matters there are other options such as conditional fee arrangements, but these do not apply in criminal matters.

Public Funding eligibility Testing

If the solicitor feels that he case and financial situation of the client may warrant public funding then they must undergo a series of test to see if they are eligible for free legal aid.

Means Test

If the client receives any form of benefits or income support then the process is different. To calculate the eligibility the total income is calculated with the total outgoings of the client deducted. This is then used to see if they are eligible for free legal funding.

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Merits Test

This is the second test in the process. It determines the value and nature of the case. It considers all the factors and a decision are made on whether the case has a reasonable chance of success.

The reasonableness test

Having passed the above two test, the individual must take one last test to be eligible for free legal funding. This test is compulsory and the commission assesses the cost of the claim and whether the cost of the funding will exceed the cost of the claim gained. If the funding is granted there will be terms and conditions drawn up as to how much money will be spent on the work permitted.

To conclude the availability of criminal legal funding, there are broad ranges of assistance and they are strictly monitored to ensure that all individuals get the right assistance, advice and representation that they need and are entitled to.

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