Key messages for legal aid suppliers - October 2021

Date published: 04 November 2021

The LSA has issued the key messages for legal aid suppliers for October 2021.

Graphic for legal services agency northern ireland key messages

Credit Union loans

When determining an application when the applicant has capital in a Credit Union and there is also a loan on the account, the Agency will require the applicant to provide confirmation from the Credit Union on what their rules are where there is capital/an outstanding loan and what capital is available to the applicant as at the date of the application/computation date.

This approach is necessary as each Credit Union is a separate entity which is owned by its shareholders and will therefore have slightly nuanced rules in relation to the liquidity of an applicant’s capital if they have capital savings but also a loan on the same account.

Where an application is made which indicates that there is a loan against a Credit Union account, the Agency will query the request back to the supplier to seek the upload of such confirmation if it is not contained in the original request.      

Waiver of eligibility limits in proceedings relating to domestic violence or forced marriage

Regulation 10 of the Civil Legal Services (Financial) Regulations (NI) Order provides a waiver of eligibility limits for applications by a client applying for a Non Molestation Orders under Article 20 of the Family Homes and Domestic Violence (Northern Ireland) Order.

The waiver means that if an applicant is otherwise financially ineligible they can receive funding subject to paying a contribution of £134 plus any disposable income in excess of £234 per week. A contribution of £100 is also payable if an applicant’s disposable capital exceeds £3,000.

Confirming and providing National Insurance Number (NINO) for applicant

When submitting an application on LAMS, practitioners are required to provide their clients National Insurance Number (NINO) by virtue of Regulation 12(1) the Civil Legal Services (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland). It is imperative that the correct information is supplied to the Agency so that full and accurate information is recorded with regards to the applicant and that all necessary checks and assessments can be completed.

In the event that the practitioner is unable to provide the NINO they must select “No” in the application and confirm the reason why it cannot be provided by choosing the correct drop down option from below:

  • Non UK resident;
  • Minor applicant under 15 years 9 months;
  • Minor applicant over 15 years 9 months in the care of a local authority;
  • Unaccompanied minor applicant over 15 years 9 months supported by the Home Office;
  • Applicant refused to provide it;
  • NINO is not known by applicant; or
  • Applicant is in custody, does not know NINO.

If an applicant refuses or is unable to provide their NINO it is vital that a Practitioner makes every effort to obtain the information pending assessment of the application. When assessing the application if no NINO has been provided, a query will be raised on LAMS allowing 21 calendar days to either provide the NINO or a suitable explanation. This would however not apply to Advice and Assistance PACE cases and non means tested applications.   

If after 21 days the NINO or a reason has not been provided then the applications will be withdrawn and the case closed.  In such circumstances, a fresh application would have to be made. In no circumstances should an incorrect or false NINO be knowingly added to LAMS.

Interpreting services

Practitioners are reminded that an Authority is required from the Agency for any Interpreting session involving an Assisted Person.

Following the Interpreting session practitioners are required to provide the Agency with verification that the session took place and how long it lasted.

To ensure accuracy of payment, where there has been a failure by a practitioner to verify that an Interpreting event has occurred, the Agency will raise a query with the practitioner via LAMS and may withhold the value of the Interpreters services from any bill submitted until verification is provided.

What you might have missed

Please note that the LSANI have published the following on the Agency’s website:

Notes to editors: 

Please note that printable PDF versions of the key messages are located within the 'Useful information for legal aid suppliers' page under the title 'Key messages'.

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