A guide to the Statutory Charge
Finding a solicitor
The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI) administers the statutory legal aid scheme for Northern Ireland, but cannot offer legal advice to members of the public. As a public body, we likewise cannot recommend or refer you to a particular solicitor who may be able to assist you.
The Law Society of Northern Ireland represents and regulates the solicitors' profession in Northern Ireland. Whilst the Law Society is not a legal advice centre and cannot offer legal advice of a specific or general nature, the Law Society maintains a Solicitors Directory, which can be used to search for a solicitor in your area. The directory can be accessed using this link to their website:
The Law Society can be also be contacted by telephone or in writing if you have any problems locating a solicitor:
Advice for applicants
Financial limits for Civil Legal Aid
From 6 April 2009 the lower limit for disposable income is £3,355; the upper disposable income limit is £9,937 and in personal Injury cases, it is £10,955.
From 6 April 2009 the disposable capital lower limit is £3,000, the upper limit is £6,750 and for personal injury cases, it is £8,560.
Paying for your legal aid
If you have been told you have to make a contribution towards your legal aid bill and you have been asked to set up a direct debit, you can download a Direct Debit mandate form which you will need to print, fill in and send to LSANI.
National Fraud Initiative
The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI) is required to protect the public funds it administers. It may share information provided to it with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.
The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) audits the accounts of the LSANI. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) is responsible for carrying out data matching exercises under his powers in Articles 4A to 4G of the Audit and Accountability (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.
Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it indicates that there may be an inconsistency that requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
The Comptroller and Audit General currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the NIAO for matching. Details are set out on the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) website:
The use of data by the Comptroller and Auditor General in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998. Data matching by the Comptroller and Auditor General is subject to a Code of Practice. This may also be found on the Northern Ireland Audit Office website.
For further information on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s legal powers and the reasons why he matches particular information, see the Level 3 notice on the NIAO website.