Guide To Onboarding A New Client Completing A Legal Help Form and Obtaining Proof of Income
The purpose of this is guide is to set out the steps to be taken when dealing with new clients so as to reduce time wasting or missing steps such as obtaining full proof of income or properly completing a Legal Help so that the Legal Aid Agency are entitled to refuse to pay for the work. It will also enable new paralegals and solicitors to know what needs to be done in seeing a new client and can easily be trained/onboarded.
The guide will deal with other issues beyond just completing the Legal Help and obtaining proof of income for Legal Aid purposes. It is designed to enable users to move from the point of an enquiry from a potential new client enquiry to the point where work can be carried out on the client's case.
This area of work is a minefield where mistakes can easily be made leading to serious consequences such as the Legal Aid Agency refusing to pay for the work carried out. It is not gong to be possible for this guide to provide a clear path enabling the user to avoid all possible errors. This guide will be kept under review so it include a Questions and Answers Section dealing with common questions which will often be asked and further questions which crop up after the guide is produce. These can be used to expand the guidance further over time to cover issues which were not originally dealt with.
The Legal Aid Agency expect suppliers to properly complete Legal Help forms and obtain proof of income. Failure to take the required steps will mean that the Legal Aid Agency will refuse to pay for the work if the file is audited and errors are deducted. These failures may also lead to contract notices or other punitive action by the Legal Aid Agency.
A client will be entitled to free advice and assistance under the Legal Help Scheme if they have a case which is with the scope set out in LASPO and if they are financially eligible - ie have a gross income of less than £2,657.00, a monthly disposable income of less than £733.00 and capital of less than £8,000.00.
The procedure where the client needs to go for an Emergency Legal Funding Certificate will be similar. The main differences are that a CCMS application will need to be completed rather than or addition to a Legal Help form (** it is s good idea to get a Legal Help form signed in any event in case there is a problem with the Legal Funding Certificate such as the Legal Aid Agency date limiting it) I should prepare a separate procedure for the CCMS application.
There are a number of documents produced by the Legal Aid Agency on how to complete Legal Help form and assess financial eligibility. These are :-