Legal Aid – Custody Issues Scheme
1. Commencement and administration of the Scheme
The Legal Aid - Custody Issues Scheme (formerly known as the Attorney General’s Legal Aid Scheme) provides payment for legal representation in the High Court and the Supreme Court for certain types of cases not covered by Civil Legal Aid or the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme. The cases covered include Habeas Corpus (Article 40.4.2) Applications, High / Supreme Court Bail Motions, certain types of Judicial Review, Extradition and European Arrest Warrant Applications (see Paragraph 3 below). It is an ex-gratia scheme set up with funds made available by the Oireachtas.
The Scheme was previously administered on behalf of the Attorney General by the Department of Justice and Equality. However, from 1st June 2012 the remit for the administration of the Scheme was transferred to the Legal Aid Board.
The budgetary responsibility for the Scheme, which formerly rested with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office was, with effect from the 1st January 2013, transferred to the Department of Justice and Equality. The Scheme, which was formerly known as the ‘Attorney General’s Legal Aid Scheme’, was renamed by the Department on the 1st January 2013 as the ‘Legal Aid – Custody Issues Scheme’.
2. Purpose and application of the Scheme
The purpose of the Scheme is to provide, in certain circumstances, legal representation for persons who need it but who cannot afford it. It is not an alternative to costs. For this reason it is necessary for the application for access to the Scheme to be made at the outset of the proceedings.
Such access is not automatic and the applicant must satisfy the Court that he or she is not in a position to retain a solicitor (or, where appropriate, counsel) unless he or she receives the benefit of the Scheme. The applicant must receive from the Court a recommendation to the Legal Aid Board that the provisions of the Scheme be applied to their specific case. Members of the public should obtain their own legal advice as to whether the litigation involved falls under the provisions of the Scheme and also as to their entitlement (if any) under the Scheme.
3. Scope of the Scheme
The Legal Aid - Custody Issues Scheme is an administrative, non-statutory arrangement whereby payments are made from the Vote of the Department of Justice and Equality in respect of certain legal costs in the types of litigation set out below in which, for the most part, the State is a party (although the State need not be a party to proceedings which are eligible for the Scheme).
The Scheme applies to the following forms of litigation (which are not covered by Civil or Criminal Legal Aid):
(i) Habeas Corpus (Article 40.4.2) Applications.
(ii) Supreme Court Bail Motions.
(iii) Such Judicial Reviews as consist of or include Certiorari, Mandamus or Prohibition and concerning criminal matters or matters where the liberty of the applicant is at issue.
(iv) Applications under Section 50 of the Extradition Act 1965, Extradition Applications and European Arrest Warrant Applications (including Bail Applications directly related to these cases).
(v) High Court Bail Motions related to criminal matters.
The Scheme only applies to proceedings of the type referred to above, conducted in the High Court and the Supreme Court. Where the proceedings are of a type which fall outside the scope of the Scheme, as for example in family law cases, the Scheme cannot be applied to those proceedings because public funds may only be applied for the purpose for which they have been provided by the Oireachtas. It is not within the discretion of the Legal Aid Board to apply public funds to other purposes.
4. Further information
To assist all parties with an interest in the Scheme, the Board has published a “Scheme Provisions and Guidance Document” which provides full details on the Scheme’s implementation. Those wishing to apply for access to the Scheme and legal practitioners and other service providers wishing to represent clients under the Scheme should read this document in the first instance. The Guidance Document and a range of related documents and claim forms can be accessed through the following links:
> Scheme Provisions and Guidance Document
> Expert Witness Fees Procedures and Guidelines Document
> Claim For Payment Form CI 1
> High Court Bail Application – Claim for payment Form CI 2
> Application for Legal Services / Declaration of Financial Means Form CI 3
> Translator / Interpreter Attendance Form CI 4
> Procedures and Guidelines for claiming Translators / Interpreters fees
Requests for further information and all queries in relation to the Scheme should be addressed to the Board at the contact details set out below.
Legal Aid Board,
Legal Aid - Custody Issues Scheme,
Criminal Legal Aid Section,
47 Upper Mount Street,
Phone: 01 6441913