The procedure for withdrawal of legal services
- Where the reason for the withdrawal of legal services in unreasonable behaviour, the person will be warned in writing that their behaviour may lead to the termination of legal services. The person is therefore afforded the opportunity to desist from the behaviour. There may be circumstances in which the behaviour is such that it is appropriate to move to the termination process without warning.
- The solicitor should write a detailed letter to Legal Services:
- Stating that they are recommending the revocation/termination of the legal aid certificate or withdrawal of legal advice, as appropriate.
- Giving a detailed account of the circumstances that are giving rise to the recommendation to withdraw services, including a full account of any unreasonable behaviour
- Giving the ground in the Regulations under which legal services should be withdrawn
- Legal Services will consider the request and may inform the solicitor that they do not believe the circumstances warrant the withdrawal of legal services. If however, the decision maker forms an intention to withdraw legal services, they will write to the client informing them of the fact that:
- An intention to withdraw legal advice/revoke/terminate the legal aid certificate has been formed
- The ground (citing the relevant provisions of the Act/Regulations) that this step is being taken
- The reasons why the step is being taken – the contents of the letter from the solicitor (or third party) will be substantively restated, where appropriate
- The fact that the client will have thirty days to respond to this letter, either directly or through their solicitor showing cause as to why the certificate should not be revoked or terminated or legal advice withdrawn.
- If no response is received, or the applicant does not show cause, Legal Services will write the client advising them that:
- legal services have been withdrawn with effect from a specified date or that the certificate has been revoked
- The grounds and reasons for the withdrawal of legal services
- The fact that the applicant’s response, if one was received, was taken into account when making the decision
- The applicant’s avenues for a review or appeal
- If the certificate is revoked, what the cost implications are for the client
Where there is no breakdown in the client-solicitor relationship and communications are through the solicitor they should remain through the solicitor. However, it is common, in circumstances where withdrawal of legal services is contemplated for the client-solicitor relationship to have broken down completely. In such cases Legal Services will correspond directly with the client and copy the law centre on all correspondence unless it is inappropriate for it to do so.
It is possible for Legal Services to form an intention to withdraw legal services because of information supplied by a person other than a law centre. When this occurs the law centre should be provided with a copy of the correspondence, unless, in the opinion of the decision maker, there are strong reasons not to do so. The procedure above starts from step 3 and the client should be advised to communicate through their solicitor unless it is inappropriate in the circumstances to do so.
Note that it is not possible for an applicant to review or appeal an “intention” to
the formation of an intention to withdraw legal advice, or to revoke or terminate a certificate. The review and appeal procedure only comes into play once the final decision to revoke, terminate, or withdraw is made.