Do you know when you might need Legal Aid? And will it still be around when you do?

I just have to refer you to this post of Ye Yo’s ‘A Message to Joe Q Public’ which is also referenced by Mr Spicy Cauldron in his Creme de Bloggers 3

As some of you might have noticed, the question of legal help has been quite vital to me in the past few months, and even at it’s present level, still leaves quite a lot to be desired. People are still caught in the trap of not being able to afford to pay for cases or having to put themselves in debt to pay for them when they have no choice. Like me. Have just received another bill from the barrister in France, so owe her another £3000…to add to the same sum I have already paid. Bear in mind I only earn £11,000 pa…….

This is what will happen here if these reforms of legal aid go through. Paying for cases which you are obliged to fight, for children, to escape violence, to right injustices…..they will only be able to be fought if you have the neccessary cash to do so.

This will create a society on 2 levels….those who can afford to go to court and take other people, and those who cannot find the money to defend themselves. Who knows when they might need it? You don’t neccessarily have to be a criminal to need legal aid……

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2 Responses to “Do you know when you might need Legal Aid? And will it still be around when you do?”

  1. Earlier this year I had one appointment which lasted about two hours plus a 20 minute phone call earlier … at approx £200 per hour *gulp*. My mam had said she’d pay for the initial consult but thankfully I qualified for legal aid. Qualifying for legal aid doesn’t mean it’s free, it’s cheaper but if you benefit financially from the work you have to pay it back over x amount of time. As I didn’t benefit financially from that consult I don’t have to pay … as long as I leave it over 6 months till I go back as then it will be considered a different case.

  2. Thanks for the ping and spreading the word!

    Just wanted to comment about what Beautifu1 said, “Qualifying for legal aid doesn’t mean it’s free….” This is true. If you recover/retain money or property in the course of proceedings you must repay your legal fees. It’s what the legal world in the UK call the statutory charge. I always tell my clients not to panic over this though because as Beautifu1points out it’s cheaper than what you would pay me private. As I said in my post, my Legal Aid rate is £68.50 per hour; private rate is 2 1/2 times that amount.

    I would disagree, however, about having to pay it off over x amount of time. This will depend upon the situation. If you’ve recovered/retained a lump sum then your costs are usually deducted immediately from that sum and the balance passed on to you. If you’ve recovered/retained property and can’t pay right away, your costs can be expressed as a charge over your property realisable when you sell or you decide to remortgage and pay it off in some fashion. Although I’m not saying that one won’t ever find themselves in a situation where they will have to pay back their fees on a monthly basis over a course of time, I will say it’s pretty rare.

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