Verro Law are proud to hold a contract with the Legal Aid Agency in the area of Claims against Public Authorities. This covers actions against the police, complaints against the police, prisoner claims and abuse cases (suhject to eligibility).
Eligibility for Legal Aid
There are two levels of Legal Aid that we work under: Legal Help and Legal Aid Certificates.
1) Legal Help
When we initially assess your eligibility for Legal Aid, we will be looking at whether you are eligible under the Legal Help Advice and Assistance Scheme in the first instance. Legal Help allows us to take the initial steps on a civil claim on your behalf and to provide advice and assistance with a police complaint.
Under this Scheme, we will look at your income and capital to see if you are financially eligible and also that of any partner that you live with. The capital limit is £8000. You need to be able to show that your Gross income does not exceed £2,657 per month and your disposable income does not exceed £733 per month. We need to carry out a calculation to see if this is the case as we are allowed to take off certain deductions ie. Housing costs, work deductions, if you have a partner and/or children, pay tax/national insurance and childcare costs. If you are in receipt of Income Support, Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Guarantee Credit or Universal Credit then your income will not need to be assessed.
You will not be asked to pay any contributions to your legal aid when you are being advised under the Legal Help scheme.
To be eligible for Legal Help, we have to be able to show to the Legal Aid Agency that there is likely to be sufficient benefit to you, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including your circumstances, to justify the cost of provision of legal help. This is a test that we will consider when assessing your case at the outset and throughout the life of the case.
Legal Help is a restricted form of legal aid in that it does not allow us to go on Court record as acting on your behalf or to attend Court hearings for you.
2) Legal Aid Certificate
If your case is not resolved under the Legal Help scheme or Legal Help is not adequate to cover the work that we need to carry out, we will advise you to make an application for a Legal Aid Certificate. In most cases, the Legal Aid Agency will decide these applications although we can grant Legal Aid to you in some cases (ie if the matter is urgent) providing we feel that the legal aid criteria has been met.
Legal Aid Certificates are assessed based on the same financial criteria as Legal Help but if you have more than £3000 capital, you may be asked to pay a contribution towards your costs.
To be eligible for a Legal Aid Certificate, the Legal Aid Agency will consider the prospects of success, whether the case has a significant wider public interest or overwhelming importance to a client, human rights issues, costs benefits criteria, whether a reasonable person would be prepared to risk his or her own money and bear the risk of having to pay the costs of the other side and whether the likely costs to be incurred are proportionate. We will consider all of these criteria when conducting an assessment of your case.
You will not be able to obtain Legal Aid for you case if you have an alternative means of funding your case i.e. through existing legal expenses insurance/trade union funding.
What if I am not eligible for Legal Aid?
Based on our experience, most clients remain eligible for Legal Aid.
However, if you are ineligible for Legal Aid for any reason, we can consider acting for you under the following funding arrangements:
Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)
A Conditional Fee Agreement works on a “No win No fee” basis which means that we will work on the risk that you will win your case and that you will receive compensation. In this scenario, the opponent will usually pay your compensation and your reasonable legal costs (including reasonable disbursements ie medical evidence, court fees, etc). If you lose your case, we would not receive any payment whatsoever for the work that we have done.
Due to the risks of not getting paid for the work done, solicitors are entitled to charge a success fee under CFA arrangements. In personal injury cases, this success fee can not exceed 25% of the damages recovered.
Since 2013, the opponent is not liable to pay for the success fee element even if you win your case. Therefore, it is deducted from any compensation that you win when your case concludes.
If you are being advised under a CFA agreement, this will only cover the risk that you become liable for your own solicitors costs. If you lose your case, then you would be at risk of becoming liable for an disbursements paid out and the opponents legal costs. For this reason, usually you should be advised on the option of taking out an After the Event (ATE) Legal Expenses Insurance policy to cover these risks. If you take out such a policy, the premium for this policy can be significant (particularly in Claims against Public Authorities cases). The premium is payable by you irrespective of whether you win or lose your case. It is often difficult to secure ATE Legal Expenses Insurance in Claims against Public Authority cases although we will do our best to assist you with this should we need to.
As you may become liable for the success fee and a Legal Expenses Insurance premium when being advised under a CFA, we would usually advise you to pursue the matter under Legal Aid if you are eligible rather than a CFA as you are better off under Legal Aid without these deductions. The costs of the success fee deduction and an ATE Legal Expenses Insurance premium may render any litigation futile depending on the likely value of the claim. You should be wary about any Solicitor who offers a CFA agreement on your case where legal aid may be available ie on Claims against Public Authorities (including the police) for these reasons.
We will always advise you on the funding option that is in YOUR best interests at the outset.
Damages Based Agreement
Where legal aid is not available and you will not be entitled to recover any legal costs, a DBA may be offered. This is similar to a Conditional Fee Agreement in that we take the risk regarding your case in that we will not be paid at all for your case if it is not successful. If your case is successful, we will agree at the outset of your case to act on the basis that our fees are covered by us taking a percentage of any damages that you recover. We would not act on this basis if Legal Aid or a Conditional Fee Agreement is available.
This type of Agreement would be used typically when we act on a Criminal Injuries Compensation Application where no legal costs are payable irrespective of the outcome of the Application.
We follow the guidance set down by the County Court Guidelines 2010 in fixing our hourly rates. Based on these Guidelines, we will charge all work done on a private basis conducted by Lisa Verro (date of qualification 2000) at a rate of £217 per hour.
Unlike other firms, we will not increase this rate due to inflation. In addition, we do not currently charge VAT on our fees.
To assess a case on a private basis, we normally require in the region of £ to allow us 2-3 hours to review papers and advise you on the matter. This is subject to assessment on receipt of the papers and we will only charge for actual work carried out.
We are happy to discuss advising on a distinct areas of work for fixed fees.
We can offer to act on a police complaint matter (subject to assessment) for a fixed fee of £750 plus vat where you are not financially eligible for legal aid.
We offer a free initial chat with you to discuss your case with you including funding options. At the outset, we will offer a legal aid assessment with you and if not eligible, we will discuss the alternatives with you.
Contact us now for your free assessment HERE