The Legal Service Commission was replaced in April 2013 by the Legal Aid Agency, as a result of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012.
Legal Aid funding can generally only be obtained in Children Act cases, including child arrangement orders, and parental responsibility proceedings, for victims of domestic violence. The definition of what counts as evidence of domestic violence is broad. The categories are as follows:
- criminal conviction
- police caution
- police bail
- ongoing criminal proceedings
- protective injunction
- an undertaking
- letter from a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference
- finding of fact, by a court
- letter from social services
- letter from a doctor (including a family doctor or 'GP'), nurse, midwife, practitioner psychologist or health visitor
- letter from a domestic violence refuge or refusal of entry to refuge
- referral to a domestic violence specialist support service by a doctor, nurse, midwife, practitioner psychologist or health visitor
- a Domestic Violence Protection Notice or Domestic Violence Protection Order granted
- a bind over
It is not necessary to delay making an application under the Children Act while awaiting the outcome of a Legal Aid application (which may take several weeks) if you are prepared to act as a litigant in person at the start of the case. In some circumstances emergency Legal Aid may be granted.
A Legal Aid certificate may be challenged by either party on grounds of merit (the case should not benefit from public money) or means (a party is not financially eligible).
For further information contact the Legal Aid Agency (England and Wales only).
For Legal Aid in Scotland contact the Scottish Legal Aid Board.