Legal aid FAQs - private law children order proceedings

Q1.   How do I make an application for private law Children Order proceedings?

Depending on the court tier you will need to make an application for representation lower (Family Proceedings Court) or representation higher (all other courts).

For guidance on how to submit an application request in LAMS, refer to Section 16.0 of the LAMS Supplier Manual and ‘Submitting an application’ in the Instructional Videos.

Q2.   What do LSANI take into consideration when deciding whether the merits of the case are met?

When considering prospects of success in such cases, a successful outcome is achieving what a reasonable client would regard as a significant improvement in arrangements concerning the children. As these cases do not concern money, the Agency will apply the private client test when considering prospects of success and cost benefit. Disputes as to long term arrangements for the children are very likely to satisfy these tests but cost benefit will be an important consideration in disputes about holiday or other one-off contact arrangements, particularly if disputes of this kind are generating repeated applications to the court and significant costs. The Agency will expect reasonable attempts to be made to resolve residence and contact issues through correspondence before proceedings are issued - such negotiations may be supported under the advice and assistance scheme, with suitable extensions. The Agency requires sight of the interparty correspondence to evidence that attempts have been made to resolve matters before recourse to court action; this is also consistent with the “no order” principle under the Children Order.

Q3.   What information do LSANI require?

Please provide the following:

  • Brief history of the family, ages of the children concerned and the client’s relationship and involvement with them to date.
  • Summary of attempts made to resolve and agree arrangements for the children with the other party.
  • Statement of the client’s specific objectives in the proceedings.
  • Details of any previous court involvement in these issues and whether or not the client has complied with all court orders to date.
  • Details of any related certificate, in particular any previous Children Order certificate.
  • Views of the children, if they are known and are old enough to express them.
  • Any views of the Trust relating to residence or contact.

Q4.   What documentation should I provide with my application?

We will require:

  • Relevant interparty correspondence, in particular related to settlement negotiations.
  • Where legal aid is sought to defend, a complete copy of the proceedings and the applicants detailed statement in response.
  • Copies of any previous relevant court orders (in particular any order which prohibits further applications).
  • Copies of any expert reports concerning the children.
  • Copies of any reports relating to the parents or other relevant parties (for example concerning anger management, drug or alcohol issues etc.).

For guidance on how to upload a document in LAMS, refer to ‘Uploading a document’ in the Instructional Videos.

Q5.   What type of certificate will I receive?

Where a certificate is issued for proceedings, the Agency reserves the right to limit the certificate either in relation to the duration of the certificate or the stage reached in the proceedings. The Agency will consider carefully any proposals (whether from the client, the court or any other party to the proceedings) to resolve private law children disputes through mediation, provided always that the Agency is persuaded that to do so is likely to be cost effective in the circumstances of the case.

Where mediation appears to be the appropriate way forward, the Agency will usually restrict the certificate to cover only the steps necessary to pursue mediation. When work covered by a scope limitation is completed, an application must be made to extend the certificate; such applications must address prospects of success and cost benefit in light of any settlement proposals by the other parties.

Q6.   When does my certificate end? 

A private law Children Order certificate will continue only until a substantive order for contact or residence has been made. If further work is needed, for example if enforcement action is required because the other party has failed to comply with the order, this must be subject to a further application to the Agency, either to extend the existing certificate for this purpose or to seek a fresh certificate.

Q7.   I have a certificate for private law proceedings and now want to defend public law proceedings. Can I have my private law certificate amended to cover the public law proceedings?

No, whether or not such proceedings are coordinated together by the court, they will need to be covered by a separate certificate. You will need to make a separate application. 

For guidance on how to submit an application request in LAMS, refer to Section 16.0 of the LAMS Supplier Manual and ‘Submitting an application’ in the Instructional Videos.

Q8.   Do I need to seek a new certificate if the case is transferred from the Family Proceedings Court to a higher court?

Yes, if a certificate for representation (lower courts) has been granted and the matter is transferred to a higher tier of court then a new certificate will be needed covering representation (higher courts). You will need to upload the transfer order and the original proceedings as supporting documents to the representation higher application. In the representation higher application, DO NOT legally link it to the representation lower case.

For guidance on how to submit an application request, refer to Section 16.0 of the LAMS Supplier Manual and to upload a document in LAMS refer to ‘Uploading a document’ in the Instructional Videos.

Q9.   I have a legal aid certificate but the case has concluded and I want to appeal. How should an application for an appeal be made?

The certificate for the substantive proceedings will cover the drafting and lodgement of the notice of appeal but no other work. You will then need to make an application for legal aid (representation higher) to appeal. These are always merits tested. Legal aid to defend appeals is not automatic. The Agency will require all applicants to address the prospects of success and other relevant merits criteria. Certificates for other parties will only be granted when it is clear that an appeal is proceeding.

If the substantive proceedings had a representation higher certificate and were means tested and there has been no change in financial circumstances since the date of those proceedings then you can legally link the appeal application to the original legal aid certificate. This will mean that you will not be required to submit the financial proofs again for the appeal. Note however, that you cannot legally link a representation lower certificate to a representation higher application seeking to appeal as the means tests are different at both levels of service.

For guidance on how to submit an application request in LAMS, refer to Section 16.0 of the LAMS Supplier Manual and ‘Submitting an application’ in the Instructional Videos.

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