Education Lawyers, part of Langley Wellington Solicitors LLP are NOT registered for legal aid. This means that, unfortunately, we cannot help you if you require legal aid to progress your case.
However, because we get many calls asking for this service that we do not provide, we have have created this page to help you understand what legal aid is and how to apply for it.
What is legal aid?
Legal aid is the use of public funds to help to pay for legal advice and court or tribunal representation. The Legal Aid Agency is in charge of providing legal aid in England and Wales. If you cannot afford to pay for a solicitor such as ourselves, you may qualify for a legal aid solicitor in certain circumstances.
There are usually three considerations to qualify:
- Category – the matter is a type that can be funded by legal aid;
- Means Test – an assessment of your financial circumstances
- Merits Test – the likelihood of success, the reasonableness of the costs and whether a reasonable person would use their own money to pay for the case.
What can I use legal aid for?
You can use it to fund legal assistance from solicitors. There are different types, including:
- Legal Help – this is the first level of publically funded assistance and allows a solicitors firm to advise and assist you with your case. It does not fund the costs of representation at court.
You can use legal aid for SEND, if you wish to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal for Special Educational Needs and Disability against the decision of the local authority, for example:
- the local authority refuses to conduct an EHC needs assessment of your child;
- the local authority refuses to issue an EHC Plan;
- you are unhappy with the contents of your child’s EHC Plan.
The level of funding available for these cases is ‘Legal Help’ and therefore a solicitor’s firm cannot represent you before the Tribunal. However, solicitors can help you prepare and run your appeal and also seek independent expert advice. It may also be available to challenge (appeal) a decision of the First-Tier (SEND) Tribunal to the Upper Tribunal.
What are the criteria for qualifying?
In order to be eligible, your financial circumstances must be assessed and fall within the limits set by the Legal Aid Agency. All educational law cases will be means-tested. You will be required to give information about your and your partner’s income, any benefits (Child Benefit, Guarantee Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit), any savings, any property, and any shares/investments you own.
- If you receive certain benefits, you are “passported” through the income means test. This means you automatically qualify within the income limits but your capital must still be assessed.
Passporting benefits include:
- Income Support (IS)
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (GC)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- your income (or combined income if you have a partner) shouldn’t be more than £2,657 a month before tax
- your savings (or combined savings if you have a partner) shouldn’t be more than £8,000
To calculate whether you qualify on financial grounds for legal advice, there is an online calculator.
How does an application for legal aid work?
You must contact Civil Legal Advice by telephoning 0345 345 4 345 to be assessed for legal aid for educational matters. If you are believed to be eligible, you will be allocated to a specialist education advisor.
The specialist will then assess your eligibility. If your case can be funded, the specialist will take further information and, if necessary, send you documentation to confirm your financial eligibility. After assessing your documentation, if the specialist is satisfied that you are eligible, you can be assisted under the ‘Legal Help’ scheme with your case. Your specialist will advise you on the matters that they can assist you with and any limitation of the scheme.
Our website contains a lot of free advice that may be of help. We’re sorry, but we CANNOT offer personalised legal advice or support if you require legal aid.