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Validating the application

In any case where it is not clear whether or not the subject matter is one which falls within the Board’s remit (section 26(2)-(4) and 28(9) of the Act), additional / relevant information should be sought and the application should be referred to the managing solicitor, or to Legal Services, as necessary, before a decision is taken on granting legal advice.

This may involve an applicant meeting with a paralegal or solicitor who will obtain information/clarification/elaboration from the applicant on the subject matter of the application before a decision is taken on the application.

In any case where the applicant is seeking to take a claim in medical negligence or personal injuries they should be advised the following at the first point of contact where they indicate that their claim will be on this basis:

  • to complete the Information Gathering – Personal Injuries form (è Chapter 5 - which they should be furnished with immediately) and to return it to the law centre as soon as possible;
  • to visit at least two private solicitors and ask them to take on the case on a conditional fee arrangement basis, such condition being
  • that the solicitor will not seek any fee from the client if they were to fail to obtain either a favourable settlement or judgement for
  • the Plaintiff in the proceedings (ie. no foal no fee);
  • if the solicitor agrees to take on the case on this basis, they should notify the law centre at the earliest opportunity that they are withdrawing their application for legal services;
  • if the solicitor concerned refuses to take on the case on this basis they should obtain a letter from the solicitor stating that this is the case; and
  • having visited two such solicitors and obtained two such letters/other evidence, they should retain these letters/other evidence and bring them to the law centre at the time of first consultation.

The law centre should continue to process the application and if the applicant is financially eligible they should be placed on the applications record, regardless of whether such letters have been obtained. The law centre may not stop processing the application merely on the basis that such letters have not been obtained.

This only applies to prospective Plaintiffs. Prospective Defendants are not subject to this requirement.

These cases are treated as High Risk. Once the Information Gathering – Personal Injuries form has been returned, it should be reviewed by the managing solicitor and the Statute of Limitations expiry date calculated. If the Statute of Limitations expiry date is within three months the managing solicitor must contact the Director of Civil Legal Aid who will form a view as to whether service can realistically be provided, bearing in mind the Board’s resources and the impending expiry of the Statute of Limitations. This does not affect the right of such persons to insist that an application for legal aid be made on their behalf.

The online application is unable to accept scanned documentation and attach it to the application.

The standard email advises the applicant to send you scanned documentation by email. It is possible that problems will arise with the Board’s email filtering software. Documents scanned as PDFs are less likely to cause difficulties.  Most mobile phones have scanning software as an installed or downloaded app and these allow documents scanned to PDF to be emailed from the phone.  We will keep this under review over the course of the pilot.

The applicant can also post copies or deliver the required documentation to the law centre. You will not be able to proceed to financially assess or passport the applicant without the required proof of income. If the only missing documentation is the person’s photo ID and/or proof of address, you can proceed to process the application and invite the person to bring photo ID/proof of address to their first consultation

You should allow one week for the scanned documentation to be received.

As long as there is no conflict, the application should at this stage be recorded on EOS.  The applicant’s details should be searched for on EOS to see if they already exist on the system.

If they already exist, the application is created as a new case for that applicant. If they do not already exist, the applicant is created on EOS and then a new case created

Law centres must also check that the applicant has either declared their eligibility for passporting, or has completed the statement of means on the reverse of the form. Where the applicant has assets in excess of €4,000 they must complete a statement of means and must also complete a statement of capital.

Online applications are automatically recorded on EOS.

Any application for legal services by a person upon whom a Notice of Intention to Revoke a Certificate of Naturalisation has been served should be notified immediately to the Director of Civil Legal Aid.

Evidence of income must be provided with most applications. Photocopies are acceptable and indeed preferred where the application is submitted by post. Where the application is made in person, the staff member accepting the application should make photocopies and return the original documentation to the applicant.

Applicants must submit evidence of their income as follows:

Social Welfare payments/Direct Provision payment Evidence of payment: i.e social welfare receipt, social welfare book, IPO card, or letter from Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection confirming eligibility for payment
Employment (including CES) Payslip (but in January and February, a Form P60 may be requested instead of a payslip if the law centre considers it necessary).
Business (sole trader/partnership) Notice of Assessment from Revenue – Irish Tax and Customs, or in the absence of this, audited accounts.

Where a person’s financial circumstances do not fall cleanly into the categories above, or is more complicated, the guidelines in è Chapter 4 should be followed.

Upon receipt of a completed application and vouching documentation, the financial assessment should be undertaken immediately (within 48 hours) and the person placed on the applications record if financially eligible.

Where an application is forwarded to your law centre from another law centre because of a conflict of interest, it should be means tested (where appropriate) and then if financially eligible (or passported) placed on the applications record by reference to the date that it was date stamped by the original law centre or the date on the application form, whichever is the later (which should almost always be the date on the date stamp).

Law centres are not allowed to operate arrangements whereby they will only accept conflict applications from one particular law centre nor are they allowed to operate arrangements whereby all of their own conflict applications will be automatically referred to one particular law centre on the basis that it is the “conflict centre”. In this regard law centres are reminded of the provisions of section 30(2) of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 which provides that “a person shall be entitled to apply for legal aid or advice through any law centre irrespective of his or her place of residence.”

If a law centre is forwarded an application for conflict of interest reasons, it must be accepted and processed, unless there are reasons particular to that application as to why it should not be.

EOS is capable of reusing the personal details of an applicant (name, address, PPSN etc) for multiple applications by the same person. This saves time on data entry when creating an application on the system.

Therefore the first step when creating an application on EOS is to check whether the person exists already. This should be done by using the Search function ( Chapter 2 under EOS and Typing) to check that a person with the same name and either address or (where provided) PPSN does not exist on EOS already.

If the person exists on EOS already, the application should usually be created as a new case on EOS using the existing applicant (Person) record, instead of creating the applicant record from scratch. In that case the existing details should be checked against the application form and updated accordingly where necessary. Once done, click the “Create New Case” link under the list of existing cases to create the new case.

Note that an online application will automatically create a new Applicant Record for a person; there is presently no way to combine this record with an existing Applicant Record.

When a paper application form is received, it must be date stamped. The first check to be done when an application is received is to check that the application contains enough details to process it. An applicant must have, at a minimum, provided their name, address, and telephone number and a brief description of the matter for which they require legal services. Law centres are entitled to reject as incomplete without any further action, applications for which no name or contact details have been provided. Otherwise the application may proceed to the conflict check.

Don’t forget, the applicant MUST complete fully, sign, and date an application  before it can be accepted.

An online application is deemed to have been signed and dated when the person submits the application using the online system. There is no need to ask any person who has submitted an online application to also sign and date a paper application form.

Law centres should check if the subject matter of the application received appears to be within the scope of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995. This is a brief check and unless the matter is very clearly outside the scope of the Act the application should be accepted.

Applications under the Police Property Act 1897 are within the scope of civil legal aid. These are applications by a Garda or a person claiming ownership of property within the custody of the Garda Siochana to the District Court for the release of this property to the person whom it appears to the district judge to be the owner or to make an order in relation to the property, if the owner cannot be identified.

In this case where the matter is clearly outside the scope of the Act (including being outside the scope of the limitations that apply to the excluded matters) – and there is absolutely no doubt as to this - the following procedure applies:

Procedure 3.6 – Dealing with an application where the matter is clearly outside the scope of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995.

NB This procedure only applies where the application appears to be clearly outside the scope of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995. Should there be any doubt whatsoever in this regard, the normal procedure should apply.

  1. Do not process the application.
  2. Write to the applicant using the standard letter below.
  3. After seven days, if the applicant has not contacted the law centre, continue processing the application as far as determining the applicant’s financial eligibility for legal services (or passporting as the case may be).
  4. If the applicant is financially eligible for legal services, or the applicant is passported, a solicitor should forward the application to Legal Services with a recommendation that legal advice be refused under section 26(2) of the Act.

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Mr. John Smith

1 Main Street

Ballymore

Co. Dublin                                                                                1 September 2016

RE: APPLICATION FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Dear Mr Smith,

I refer to your application for legal services. Unfortunately, it appears that the matter you have applied for legal services for is not covered by the civil legal aid scheme. There are certain civil matters that are not covered and <<subject matter>> is one of these.

If you wish to withdraw your application you should contact the law centre in the next seven days.

Otherwise we will proceed to process your application and determine whether you are financially eligible for legal services. However, you should note that even if you are financially eligible, legal services are likely to be refused as the Board cannot assist with matters that are outside the civil legal aid scheme. Therefore, if you are found financially eligible for legal services, we will then forward your application to our Head Office with a recommendation that it is refused. You will be advised if this occurs and the options open to you in such circumstances.

Yours sincerely,

_______________
Jane Jones

Law Centre (                         )

Eos-logoComplete the “Validate application” milestone in EOS

An application is incomplete if the required documentation outlined above is not included with it.

The financial assessment procedure can only be carried out once a completed application, with appropriate documentation, has been received. In addition, in an application for legal services in connection with medical negligence or negligence/assault resulting in personal injuries, the date of knowledge of the injuries sustained must be included on the application form and where it is not included it must be obtained prior to the application being deemed complete.

Where an incomplete application is received, the following procedure applies:-

Procedure 3.5 – Dealing with an incomplete application

These procedures apply, in general, whether or not the applicant has called in person to the law centre, written, or phoned.

  1. Write to, email, or telephone the applicant advising them of the missing documentation/information which they should furnish. (A sample letter is provided on the next page).
  2. Insert a diary reminder on the shared diary to close the application fourteen days from today’s date, if a financial assessment is not possible by that date.
  3. Place the incomplete application in a file by reference to the date the incomplete application was received.
  4. If the missing documentation/information is not received within fourteen days, close the application file.

An application is not incomplete if only documentation required for the anti-money laundering check is missing. In the absence only of such documentation:

  • the application is deemed complete;
  • the financial assessment may proceed; and
  • the person if eligible, should be placed on the applications record.
     

The anti-money laundering check must be carried out at the first consultation in that instance, if it is required.

APP001.Incomplete application letter
APP001.Application Received workflow

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Mr. John Smith

1 Main Street

Ballymore

Co. Dublin                                                                                1 September 2016

 

 

RE: Application for Legal Services

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

On                      you applied for civil legal aid and advice to our law centre.

I cannot check whether you can get civil legal advice unless you send me the following

If your income is You need to supply us with a copy/scan via email of:
Social welfare
A social welfare payment slip or letter from Intreo telling us what your payments are
Salary/wages from a job Most recent payslip
A business (sole trader or partnership) Most recent notice of assessment from Revenue, or audited accounts.

<<Delete any that do not apply>>

If I do not hear from you within 14 days of the date on this letter I will have to close your application. You can reapply again if you wish to do so.

Yours sincerely,

______________
Jane Jones

Law Centre (                         )

If a conflict arises a decision should be made to refer the applicant to a different law centre unless the matter can be referred to the District Court family law solicitors panel. Where this is the case and

the law centre takes the view that the case is suitable for referral; and
any other guidelines for referral (see è Chapter 6) are met by the case

the law centre may proceed to process the application and refer the case to the panel according to the instructions in è Chapter 6.  Such referrals must take place without the applicant having a first consultation appointment in the law centre.

Otherwise the application must be referred to another law centre or the conflict clinic. Except for online applications, such applications should not be recorded on EOS. The following procedure should apply where it is proposed to refer the applicant to another law centre:

Procedure 3.4 – Referring an application where conflict has been identified to another law centre.

  1. Date stamp the application as of the date it was received by your law centre.
  2. The application should not be recorded on EOS.
  3. Contact the person by telephone and tell them there is a conflict of interest and the law centre cannot act for them. Do not disclose the reason for the conflict of interest. Ask the person which law centre they would like the application to be forwarded to, offering the person a list of law centres which may be convenient. If the person does not express a preference, or cannot be contacted by telephone, the law centre should forward the application to the law centre which is next geographically closest to the applicant.
  4. Forward the application to the chosen law centre with an appropriate cover note which should state if possible that the applicant has expressly instructed that they wish their application to be sent to that law centre.
  5. Send the applicant the letter on the next page.

Law centres may operate an arrangement whereby a solicitor from a neighbouring law centre visits the law centre for the purposes of seeing clients for whom a conflict of interest arises in that centre. Where that is the case, the above procedure applies subject to the amendment that the law centre should inform the applicant of the existence of the conflict clinic as an option in step 2.

Where the applicant elects to be seen at the conflict clinic the “chosen law centre” for the purposes of the above procedure is the law centre from which the solicitor who operates the conflict clinic normally works.

APP01. Referral letter after conflict check
APP01.Application Received workflow

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Mr John Smith

1 Main Street

Ballymore

Co. Dublin

1st June 2016                                              

RE: APPLICATION FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Dear Mr Smith,

I refer to your application for legal services dated ___________. 

Because of a conflict of interest that has arisen, we cannot provide you with legal services in this law centre. We cannot tell you the reason for the conflict in any further detail, because of data protection legislation.

I note that we have discussed with you the next nearest law centres and you have instructed us to forward your application to ______________ Law Centre whose address is ____________________________ and whose telephone number is ______________. They will contact you shortly with regard to your application.

Yours sincerely,

_________
Jane Jones

Managing Solicitor