When should I apply for legal aid?
As a solicitor, it is for you to use your professional judgement as to if and when to apply for legal aid. Solicitors for the prospective Plaintiff are encouraged to use all means short of litigation to avoid the dispute going to Court, keeping their client’s best interest at heart at all times. Methods such as alternative dispute resolution, negotiation, and mediation are encouraged. Solicitors for the applicant in family law proceedings are reminded of their obligations to do so under the Family Law Acts (and to certify to the Court that they have done so) and this should under no circumstances be a “box checking” exercise, but should be the recommended way of solving disputes.
If it has come to the point where the other side have issued proceedings, the solicitor will need to apply for a legal aid certificate to defend those proceedings.