The Board aspires to ensuring that no applicant waits for more than a month for a first consultation with a solicitor, though it acknowledges that due to the level of demand for services an applicant may have to wait a significant period for a second consultation. The Board recognises that because of their nature, certain types of cases must be given a full service urgently. The Board has therefore decided to prioritise certain matters.
All applicants must be placed on the applications record, however priority applications will be removed from the applications record and offered an appointment as soon as is possible, having regard to the resources available to the law centre. Prioritisation may require that steps are taken to ensure that a prioritised matter is dealt with immediately. Appointments with other clients or other work may need to be re-arranged. For example it may require that work is reorganised to enable representation to be provided to a respondent in proceedings on foot of Part IV of the Child Care Act 1991.
Priority is given to applicants seeking legal services in the following categories of cases:-
- Persons in receipt of mediation services from the Board, seeking legal advice in relation to issues that have arisen in the course of mediation, or in relation to the contents of a proposed mediated agreement
- Persons who were previously legally aided and are now seeking legal aid in respect of an appeal of the same matter for which they were legally aided
- child abduction proceedings
- where there is a real danger of children being taken out of the jurisdiction without the consent of the applicant
- proceedings on foot of Part IV of the Child Care Act 1991 or applicants presenting with cases that involve a risk of such proceedings
- domestic violence
- enforcement of foreign maintenance pursuant to EU Maintenance Regulation 4/2009 where a request has been made by the Central Authority established under that Regulation for the maintenance order/determination be enforced in the jurisdiction, and for Respondents in such proceedings
- where a maintenance debtor has been served with a summons / warrant on foot of section 9A of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976, has appeared in Court and has applied for civil legal aid having been advised of his/her entitlement to do so by the Judge
- where, under the Statute of Limitations, there is a danger that the time limits for issuing proceedings may expire unless immediate action is taken
- where there is a danger of time limits expiring
- where there is a danger that assets may be reduced / disposed of so that they would be unavailable to meet the claims of the applicant
- legal services for complainants in rape and certain sexual assault cases
- legal aid for persons in respect of whom a sex offenders order is being sought;
- where the other party’s nationality, domicile or habitual residence enables them to seek a similar remedy in another jurisdiction and the applicant is likely to be prejudiced if he/she does not initiate proceedings first
- applications for committal for contempt of court, where the applicant is the Defendant in such proceedings
- international protection
- Proceedings on foot of section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012
- Legal services for complainants/witnesses who are the subject of an application to have their counselling records released
- Reviews or appeals of decisions in relation to a labour market permission, the material reception conditions, or direct provision allowances, for applicants for international protection
- Where the applicant is at risk of being imminently removed or deported from the jurisdiction
- managing solicitors retain a residual discretion to provide a priority service in other cases where, having regard to the particular case concerned, as compared with other applications on the applications record, and to their own knowledge and experience, they consider that it is appropriate that a particular applicant be given specific priority over other applicants for legal services.
Priority and EOS
EOS has two settings for priority – either a case is priority or not. Each case type is assigned as either priority or not when it is created. All Enquiry cases start as not priority. While EOS sets a default priority setting, you should not rely on EOS but use your own judgement as to whether the case should be prioritised.
To update the priority setting in EOS, click the twisty beside the Case Reference (at the top of any screen while in a case) and tick the checkbox beside “Case Priority”. You will be asked to enter a priority reason. Enter the reason for priority and click “Continue”. Then click “Save Updated Case Details”.
Communications with applicants whose case is assessed as priority
Depending on the situation and the nature of the priority case, it may be advisable for a law centre to keep applicants whose case is assessed as priority updated by telephone in relation to the status of their application. This particularly applies where the applicant has an impending court date.
Complete the “Identify priority level” milestone in EOS.
Domestic violence cases
All applications for legal services in connection with domestic violence remedies in Dublin must be immediately referred to the Board’s Dolphin House Service unless the law centre is in a position to provide immediate representation.
Outside Dublin, the application should be financially assessed. If the person is financially eligible, the case may be dealt with by the law centre subject to capacity. The person should be immediately offered the first available appointment with a solicitor.
If the law centre does not have capacity to deal with the application, or the managing solicitor considers it a better use of resources (e.g. the application will be made in a District Court venue which is not within a reasonable distance of the law centre), the case should be immediately referred to a private practitioner using the procedures in è Chapter 6.