When to Lodge the Application
It is in your client's interests to send us the completed application at the earliest opportunity. This is so even if the client is better off than the average applicant, and may not be expected to qualify for aid initially. The reasons for this are that:
We will normally date the grant from the day we receive the application. We will therefore not pay for any work undertaken before then. Disputes often arise between solicitors and clients over fees incurred in that interval, because once the client completes the application form, he or she is apt to assume that the case will be covered by legal aid, and will often be very surprised and upset to receive your bill if it is not. Often, they refuse to pay, saying that they did not receive proper costs advice. You should make the position clear to your client, and send the application in at the earliest possible time.
If your client is not initially eligible for reasons of means, we will assess a contribution which we consider he or she could pay, and suggest that he or she re-apply for aid if the case costs more.
This re-application must be made immediately the contribution is spent, as once again, we will only pay for work we have authorised. If the client expends their contribution, but does not reapply, we cannot help them with your fees in excess of the contribution. This means that they will have to pay privately, when they might have had legal aid. This is a frequent source of client complaint. Our letter to you and your client tells you how much this contribution is. It is your responsibility to keep track of your fees and let us and your client know as soon as the contribution is spent so that we can review the case and see whether they are now entitled to aid.
Of course, there is no guarantee that aid will be granted on the re-application. We consider the client's eligibility at that time, having regard to the amount they have paid and all other relevant factors.