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District Court Family Law Solicitors Panel

What is the Panel?

The District Court Family Law Panel is our busiest solicitors panel. Just under 34,000 legal aid cases were referred to private solicitors under this panel over the last five years. Generally about 6,000 - 8,000 legal aid cases in the District Court are annually referred to the Panel.

What work can I expect from the panel?

This Panel is for family law work in the District Court, or appeals to the Circuit Court, covering private family law work under the following Acts:

  • Guardianship of Infants Act 1964
  • Domestic Violence Act 1996
  • Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976

The cases we refer under this Act tend to be applications for domestic violence remedies, or disputes regarding access or custody of children, or applications for maintenance outside of the context of divorce/separation proceedings. A significant number of the cases are in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court in Dolphin House.

How do I join the panel?

You will need to be enrolled as a solicitor in the State, have adequate professional indemnity insurance to the Board's satisfaction (currently €1.5m) and meet tax clearance requirements. You will need to apply in writing, on the application form, and give a signed undertaking to comply with the Terms and Conditions of membership and the provisions of the law regarding civil legal aid.

You can download the application form for the panel here.

I am signed up. How do I get work?

Applicants apply at law centres for legal aid and advice. The application will be considered by the Board and if granted the applicant will be given a legal aid certificate. All persons granted legal aid at the law centre at Dolphin House are normally referred to the panel. At other law centres it is the law centre's decision in accordance with management guidance as to who is referred to the panel. There is no entitlement to be referred but we will take the wishes of the applicant into account. In Dublin it is normally a requirement that proceedings already have issued before we will make a referral and the Family Law Office at Dolphin House will assist parties with this.

A person who is referred to the Panel will be given a copy of an extract from the Panel with the names of the solicitors providing services in the county in which the court proceedings are taking place. Either the Board or the legally aided person then notifies the solicitor and provides them with the following documents:

  • the legal aid certificate which includes the legally aided person’s name, the nature of the proceedings authorised and the steps authorised on foot of those proceedings, in terms of the expenditure on witnesses that may be incurred; and
  • a Claim Form on which the legal aid certificate number should be entered.

The certificate is the solicitor’s authority to provide legal aid to the client under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995.  A copy of the certificate should be retained by the solicitor / firm on the client file.  Another copy of the certificate should be attached to the claim form for payment of the fee and any outlay, when the case is concluded. Legal services cannot be provided without a valid legal aid certificate.

What are the fees payable?

There is a standard scale of fees payable per case to solicitors/firms on the Panel for the provision of services. Claims may be made on the CF1 DC Claim Form.