Legal Aid is still available for possession claims, homelessness, eviction and unlawful eviction, re-housing, disrepair, judicial review.
1. Possession claims
- This includes defending possession proceedings from both public and private landlords
- Funding is available for counterclaims, including disrepair counterclaims
- Funding is available regardless of the grounds for possession as long as there is a defence
- Assistance for mortgage repossession cases is also available (but these cases are now classified as ‘debt’ cases and subject to the telephone gateway)
- Legal Help is available as soon as possession is being sought, ie when a notice is served.
- Funding is available to assist clients with their homeless applications
- Funding is also available for provision of accommodation through community care services and for accommodation for asylum seekers
- This includes requesting reviews of negative decisions or requesting reviews of suitability of accommodation
- Funding is available for County Court appeals
3. Eviction and unlawful eviction
- Funding is available for assistance in setting aside a warrant of eviction
- Funding is also available to bring a claim for unlawful eviction
- As long as the client falls within the definition of homeless then assistance can be provided in relation to their application for re-housing.
- Therefore, funding should be available for anyone living in unsuitable accommodation wanting a transfer as it will not be reasonable for them to occupy their current accommodation and so they will be ‘homeless’.
- Where there is a serious risk of harm to the health and safety of a client or their family legal aid is available to pursue a disrepair claim
- Funding does not cover any claim for damages in civil proceedings.
- Legal Aid is therefore only likely to be suitable for very urgent injunction cases where compensation is minimal.
- Legal Help can be used to investigate prosecutions under the Environmental Protection Act but alternative funding will have to be used to take the case to Court.
6. Judicial Review
- Funding is available for housing judicial review cases.
- Note, however, the coming changes to judicial review – providers will only be guaranteed payment if they are granted permission to bring a claim, payment for cases that settle before this will be at the discretion of the Legal Aid Agency.
7. Other cases
- Funding is also available for anti-social behaviour cases and injunctions concerning harassment in the home.
Conditional Fee Agreements
- Legal Aid will not be granted for cases that are suitable for a Conditional Fee Agreement.
- It is the type of case that is relevant, not the provider – therefore the fact that many not-for-profit advisers cannot fund cases under CFAs is irrelevant
- You should explain why the case is unsuitable for a CFA in any application for Legal Aid.
- Funding is available for cases no longer in scope where failure to provide funding would breach the applicant’s Convention rights under the ECHR
- There have been very few successful applications so far
- Funding is only likely to be available in extremely rare circumstances.
- Assessments of client’s capital is needed, even where the applicant is in receipt of Income Support, Income-related JSA or Income-related ESA.
- The Legal Help forms contain a checklist for acceptable proof of income
- If your client is unable to provide sufficient proof, eg because they are homeless, or particularly vulnerable, you will need to contact the LAA directly to ensure funding can be provided.
- Mortgage possession cases are now classed as ‘debt’ cases.
- If the case is urgent, emergency legal aid can be granted.
- If the case is suitable for Legal Help only, the client must contact the telephone gateway who will determine whether the client needs face-to-face advice.