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Introduction

The Circular on Legal Services – Guide to Decision Making and Best Practice aims to allow us to perform our functions under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 in a way that reflects our commitment to providing a professional legal aid and advice service.

Since we were established, we have adopted procedures and policies about providing legal services on an ongoing basis. Most of these procedures and policies were issued as Circulars. The Circular on Legal Services was first issued as a single document in 2001 and this July 2017 edition is the latest updated version.

The Circular seeks to meet the requirements for fair procedures and natural justice, as well as other constitutional and human rights principles, in how we process and make decisions on applications for legal services – as well as how we provide legal services to people who rely on us. It is essential that all members of staff involved in providing legal services are familiar with the contents of this Circular. In particular, solicitors will be aware that compliance with our procedures and policies is part and parcel of their terms and conditions of employment. Solicitors should also ensure that they are familiar with the provisions of the Act and Regulations made under the Act. To assist in this we have prepared informal consolidations of:

  • The Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and all amendments made to it.
  • The Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996, 2002, 2006, 2013, and 2016.

Both of these are available on iLAB.

Up to date versions of these Circulars and the Administrative Procedures Handbook are always available on the Notes workspace of all staff.

Change is always ongoing. Over time, some procedures and policies will no longer be needed, while new ones will need to be drawn up. The Professional Practice Work Group (PPWG) monitors and reviews existing procedures and policies and identifies when new ones are required. The Director of Civil Legal Aid, Regional Managers and the PPWG always welcome contributions from all members of staff to assist them with this task.

The Circular follows the conventions in the Administrative Procedures Handbook.  You can find a guide to these conventions in the Introduction to the Handbook. For ease of use it is in ten parts. Any time the Circular is changed, staff will be notified electronically and the Bulletin Board will be updated. We aim to publish a new version of the Circular each year.

You should also be aware of the Family Mediation Procedures Handbook, which you can find on the Lotus Notes “Administrative Procedures Handbook” tile.

Any issues in relation to the policy/principles contained in this document regarding the provision of legal services should be referred, at any stage, to the Director of Civil Legal Aid or the secretary of the PPWG. Operational matters should be referred to Legal Services.

Sometimes you will see references in the Circular to functions of particular members of the Management Advisory Team. The Chief Executive can at any time nominate other members of staff to carry out these functions.

The principal functions of the Board - Civil Legal Aid Act 1995

Section 5 of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995, provides that:

“The principal functions of the Board shall be… to provide, within the Board’s resources and subject to the other provisions of this Act… legal aid and advice in civil cases to persons who satisfy the requirements of this Act, and… a family mediation service;”

Glossary of legal terms