I have recently seen a number of people who have fallen into what can only be described as a Legal Aid trap. Legal Aid is available to victims of domestic abuse, but is still means tested. If your income exceeds the Legal Aid threshold, or you are a home owner, you may be asked to pay a contribution towards your Legal Aid, which sounds reasonable, right? Only, the amounts requested are often totally disproportionate to the cost of any legal fees, and therefore are completely unreasonable.
The worst case I have seen, was a single parent, who was employed and a home owner, who was asked to pay a contribution of £6000 towards a domestic injunction, this was only slightly worse than the £4000 asked of someone on state benefits, because they owned a motorhome. Sadly, both paid. Both going into debt to be able to make that payment. It is a concern that their solicitor didn’t discuss with them the costs of paying privately, which would have been significantly lower than the contribution amount requested by the Legal Aid Agency.
Do not get caught in this trap. If you are entitled to Legal Aid but are asked to make a contribution, make sure you discuss the costs of paying privately with your solicitor and compare this to the contribution you have been asked to make.
For further information, please contact Emma Hoole on 0114 272 1884 or 01302 341 414 for friendly, helpful advice.