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Legal Aid - Final Hearing

(9 Posts)
popsaz Mon 11-Nov-13 10:48:30

Hi first of all I'd like to apologise in advance if this subject has already been covered.

In regards to legal aid for family law, is it correct that legal aid doesn't cover the 'final hearing' Even though they are never usually that final!

There was a mix up with my legal aid certificate so I had to borrow money to pay my solicitor for the final hearing that was approaching. In the end it didnt turn out to be the final hearing and we will be going back to court again.

My solicitor did say that once Legal Aid was reinstated I would be reimbursed (so I can pay back the numerous family members who came to my rescue!) But I received a letter this week from my solcitor that states that as the hearing was listed as a final, she cannot refund me as Legal Aid do not pay for final hearings.

Can anyone shed some light on this? I'm not sure if I should be contacting the Legal Aid agency directly. I don't really want to go back as question my solicitor without having all the facts in place.

Just to clarify my legal help certificate has been reinstated and is actually dated a couple of days before the hearing took place. I just can't understand why I am not covered.

Does anyone know what happens at final hearings to people who can't afford or don't have the family members friends around to help them pay for it?

Thank you in advance!

mumblechum1 Mon 11-Nov-13 11:43:25

I haven't done public funding for a very long time but when I did, we had to apply specifically for funding for final hearings and the Board would only give it if there was a strong chance of success.

You don't say what type of hearing it was, ie financial or children.

tbh I think you're just going to have to ask your solicitor for a written explanation. Don't worry about upsetting them, they have to keep you fully informed, it's part of the job.

Berzingaa Mon 11-Nov-13 12:10:19

My Legal Aid covered my final hearing. That was Family law (children)

Collaborate Mon 11-Nov-13 12:19:25

There's usually not much of a problem getting a certificate amended to cover a final hearing, but the LAA often take up to 4 weeks to process the amendment application. The amendment should have been applied for as soon as the FH was listed, but if your certificate was embargoed for another reason (like arrears of contributions, or a financial reassessment) that could have delayed the application being made.
You can't pay for advice and then have LA retrospectively granted. You either have LA to cover a hearing it you don't.

popsaz Mon 11-Nov-13 13:13:41

Thank you very much for your replies. It is for family law in regards to contact with children. My ex partner started the court proceedings over 2 years ago and we have been in and out ever since. Contact hasn't been going ahead and the judge has advised against it. Indirect contacted was started and stopped in the same way.

This was for the 'final hearing' and we were all prepared for it but less than 2 weeks before our court date my Ex partner and his solicitors put in an application for a psychological assessment. Which is ludicrous but I was warned that something a long those lines may happen. I was happy to agree to the assessment but it put a spanner in the works in regards to the final hearing as it didn't really go ahead.

The judge discussed it and said that as there is literally nothing else they can do for us, he was happy to accept my Ex's application if thats what he really wants but obviously warned that he may not get the outcome he is hoping for.

My legal aid was cancelled due to an error at their end after a reassessment. I had sent off all the relevant documents to them. My legal aid was actually cancelled for 4 months before my solicitor realised and we had been to court in that space of time too. But as I say my legal help has been reinstated and as it was an error at their end they have continued my original claim.

My solicitor informed me that I wasn't covered by legal aid 2 days before the final hearing. He said he would cut his fees by half to £1500. Which I managed to raise and pay in the knowledge that it would be paid straight back to me when legal aid had made a decision about my certificate.

I have also had a letter since that says that although we agreed on a fixed payment of £1500, I now have to pay VAT. So he would like another £300. I am paying a contribution to my legal aid and still have to pay family back for the money I borrowed! (let's not mention christmas at this point!!)

Im so confused about the whole situation and i just can't understand why my solicitor hasn't claimed it from the LAA. Surely if he could, he would? He gets paid what ever happens.

Thanks again for your replies I really appreciate your knowledge and advice!

babybarrister Mon 11-Nov-13 18:36:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

popsaz Mon 11-Nov-13 19:58:06

Thank you, I will get in touch with my solicitor and ask for it to be fully explained.

I did ask and I was told that Legal Aid doesn't c

popsaz Mon 11-Nov-13 20:06:31

**i was told that legal aid didn't cover a final hearing. I assumed it was all final hearings but that's clearly not the case!

In regards to the fees again, I will be paying the VAT when I get the chance. It just seems so strange to me that we agreed on a fixed price of £1500 which I paid in full but almost 2 months later I am being charged VAT. My solicitor is incredibly experienced and usually very professional. It just all seems to be a huge mess. But now I know some cases are covered for final hearings I can at least go back to my solicitor and question why mine wasn't.

babybarrister Mon 11-Nov-13 21:04:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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