Legal aid FAQs - ancillary relief

Q1.   What does a certificate for ancillary relief cover?

Resolving ancillary relief disputes is likely to involve:

  • Seeking disclosure so that all relevant assets and interests can be identified.
  • Engagement with the opponent, negotiation and compromise.
  • Finalising a settlement in a matrimonial agreement or order.

One of the aims of funding representation in ancillary relief proceedings is to seek to achieve these steps without unnecessary or unduly protracted proceedings in court. The Agency will expect to see evidence of reasonable attempts to negotiate and compromise. Even where agreement on all issues cannot be reached, the parties should try to narrow the range of issues in dispute by seeking agreement on issues such as valuations and expert reports at an early stage.

An ancillary relief certificate will cover all reasonable steps towards obtaining a final order. For the avoidance of doubt, this may for example include:

  • Any application for maintenance pending suit.
  • Registration of a caution or notice of ‘lis pendens’ to protect the client’s interests in matrimonial property.
  • Application to for a matrimonial agreement to be made a rule of court.

Q2.   What steps do I need to seek specific prior authority for?

The following steps would however only be covered if specifically authorised by the Agency and/or set out in the certificate:

  • Application for an avoidance of disposition order.
  • Application for a Mareva injunction.
  • Any appeal (including from a Master to a Judge).
  • Application to vary or discharge an order.
  • Application to the court under any “liberty to apply” provision or for consequential directions.
  • Enforcement of any order (this would require a fresh application for legal aid).
  • Contempt or committal proceedings (this would require a fresh application for legal aid).

Q3.   Will my certificate for ancillary relief automatically cover me to issue in the High Court?

No, the Agency will expect ancillary relief proceedings to be started in the County Court unless persuaded that the High Court is the appropriate venue.

Q4.   Will my certificate cover me for the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR)?

Yes, certificates issued for ancillary relief will normally be limited to all steps up to the FDR. An application must be made to the Agency to extend the certificate to a final hearing. Full details of the best offers made by the other side must be set out and evaluated so that the Agency can consider the prospects of success and cost benefit of proceeding further. Solicitors should advise their clients that there is no guarantee of continued funding if reasonable settlement offers are refused at the FDR stage as the case no longer meets the legal aid merits test.

Q5.   What information do LSANI require?

Please provide the following:

  • Background to the marriage, details of any children.
  • Summary of the financial situation of the parties.
  • Details of the matrimonial property (or properties) and the equity in the same including properties outside the jurisdiction.
  • Statement of what the client is specifically seeking to achieve and what are likely to be the key issues.
  • Summary of the opponent’s position and response to date.
  • Details of the opponent’s best settlement offer (if any) made to date.
  • Details of related proceedings or certificates.
  • Estimated legal costs likely to be incurred in order to resolve financial issues and a cost benefit analysis.

Q6.   What documentation should I provide with my application?

We will require:

  • Relevant interparty correspondence, in particular settlement proposals.
  • Divorce petition (if issued).
  • Relevant pleadings (if any).
  • Any statement of arrangements for the children (if applicable).

For guidance on how to submit an amendment request in LAMS, refer to Section 19.0 of the LAMS Supplier Manual.

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