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Applicants who are financially ineligible

An applicant who is assessed and found to be financially ineligible for legal services cannot be provided with legal services.  An applicant should be informed of this refusal decision in writing by the law centre. The applicant should also be provided with a copy of the Means Test Form on which their eligibility was calculated.

The letter on the following page should be sent by the law centre to an applicant who is assessed as being financially ineligible for legal services.  It should be noted that this letter, and the other letters in the remainder of this Chapter, may require separate changes depending on the specific circumstances of the case and all letters issuing to applicants should be signed by the Managing Solicitor and a contact name, if required, inserted on the letter.

APP01.FOA refusal 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 Mr Smith,

I refer to your application for legal services dated ___________ 20__.

Unfortunately you have been found ineligible for legal services on financial grounds and we must refuse your application for legal services.  The law[1] states that the Board cannot legally assist any person whose disposable income is more than  €18,000. We have calculated your disposable income as  €_______________.   To arrive at this figure we take your annual gross income into account and give you  what are known as “allowances” (which are deductions from your annual income).

We can only give the allowances listed below and unfortunately they cannot be given for any other expenses, such as telephone, electricity, and gas bills, doctor’s fees or hospital bills, travel costs, etc.

The allowances which we can grant are decided by the Government from time to time and the Board cannot take anything else into account. 

We grant allowances as follows:

•           €3,500 for your spouse/partner;

•           €1,600 for each of your dependent children;

•           All of your Income Tax, PRSI, and USC payments for the next twelve months;

•           Up to €8,000 of your annual payments towards your mortgage or rent;

•           Up to €6,000 per child for childcare expenses, if you are working;
•           All of your Pension Related Deduction payments for the next twelve months, if you are employed in the Civil or Public Service;

•           Up to €3,500 of maintenance payments made towards your (former) spouse, if you are separated or divorced; and

•           Up to €1,600 per child, for maintenance payments made towards your children, when they don’t live with you.

Your financial assessment form which is enclosed will show which allowances were given to you.

Your options

You have the option to ask the Board to review this decision. A review means that you can submit further information in writing to the Board and ask us to re-consider the decision. For example, you may inform us of information which we did not consider, or may consider that the calculation of your income was not properly done. If you think we have made a mistake in our calculations, you should tell us where you think we have gone wrong and what the correct figure should be.  Remember though, that the only allowances we can grant you are the ones stated above.  I am enclosing a form which will assist you in providing the Board with information in support of a review.

You must submit any information in support of a review within one month of the date at the top of this letter. If you would like a review of the decision, you should write to the law centre at the address above submitting this information as soon as possible.

You may appeal the decision to an appeal committee which consists of members of the Board of the Legal Aid Board. If you can identify a reason for example, based on the allowances given and the calculations made why you think the appeal committee should consider to overturn the original decision you should do so as it will assist them with their task.  They will either confirm the decision to refuse legal services on financial grounds or they may overturn this decision.   An appeal does not involve you submitting any further information to the Board. However, if you ask for a review and submit further information, you will have a further month after we tell you the outcome of the review to appeal. 

If in the future your financial circumstances change you can re-apply for legal services.  The Board has information available in leaflet form and on its website that may be of assistance to you. 

If your problem is a family matter the Board provides family mediation free of charge which is not means tested and you may wish to contact one of our family mediation offices, details of which can be found at www.legalaidboard.ie

Yours sincerely,

____________
Jane Jones

Managing Solicitor


[1] Regulation 13(3) of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2017 provides that “An applicant whose disposable income exceeds €18,000 per annum shall not be eligible to obtain legal aid or advice.

APP001.FOA Review Application form                                                                                    APP001.Application Received workflow

Where an applicant is refused legal services on the basis of their income the law centre should complete the middle column of this form (leaving the right hand side column blank) and enclose it with the letter refusing legal services.

APP001.FOA Refusal letter (capital)
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 Mr Smith,

I refer to your application for legal services dated ___________ 20__.

Unfortunately the Board must refuse your application for legal services as the value of your disposable assets (which we refer to as “disposable capital”) exceeds the maximum laid down by Regulations1. We calculated your disposable capital as €_______________, but the law states that the Board cannot legally assist any person whose disposable capital is in excess of €100,000.  A copy of the means test form is enclosed.

Disposable capital means that the Board does not just take the total value of your assets (which we refer to as “gross capital”) into account. We reduce by one-tenth the value of each asset, except for cash on hand or in a bank account. This is to take into account the cost to you if you were to sell the asset concerned. In addition, we grant what are known as “allowances”, which are deductions from your gross capital. We grant allowances as follows:

·         The full amount of any loan which you took out to finance, or any charge registered against, a capital asset which was included in the calculation of your gross capital

·         Up to twelve months worth of repayments on any other loan you have taken out (or, if you have less than twelve months left to repay, the full amount outstanding).

·         Any legally enforceable debts which fall due to be repaid within the next twelve months.                                                                            

The value of your family home is not taken into account when calculating your gross capital. However we also do not take into account the value of the corresponding mortgage as an allowance.

The allowances which we can grant are decided by the Government from time to time and the Board has no power to take anything else into account when calculating your disposable income.

Your options

You have the option to ask the Board to review this decision. A review means that you can submit further information in writing to the Board and ask us to re-consider the decision. For example, you may inform us of information which we failed to consider, or may consider that the calculation of your income was not properly done. If you think we have made a mistake in our calculations, you should tell us where you think we have gone wrong and what the correct figure should be.  Remember though, that the only allowances we can grant you are the ones stated above.

The review will be done by staff in the Board’s Head Office in Cahirciveen. You must submit any information in support of a review within one month of the date at the top of this letter. If you would like a review of the decision, you should write to the law centre at the address above submitting this information as soon as possible.

You may also appeal the decision to an appeal committee, which consists of members of the Board of the Legal Aid Board. They will consider your appeal and take a decision, which will either be to confirm the decision of the person who decided to refuse legal services, or they may overturn this decision and grant you legal services. Usually, an appeal does not involve you submitting any further information to the Board. However, if you ask for a review and submit further information, you will have a further month after we tell you the outcome of the review to appeal.

The Board has information available in leaflet form and on its website that may be of assistance to you.  If your problem is a family matter the Board provides family mediation free of charge and you may wish to contact one of our mediation offices, details of which can be found at www.legalaidboard.ie

Yours sincerely,

____________
Jane Jones

Managing Solicitor

1 Regulation 13(4) of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2017 specifies that “An applicant whose disposable capital exceeds €100,000 shall not be eligible to obtain legal aid or advice”.

Review of decision to refuse legal services on financial eligibility grounds

An applicant may, within one month of the date on the letter informing them that legal services have been refused on financial eligibility grounds, request a review of the decision. A review involves the applicant submitting further information which will allow us to reconsider the decision to refuse legal services.

The further information which an applicant can submit in seeking a review can include, but is not limited to:

  • Additional information regarding allowances they did not claim
  • Additional backing documentation
  • Corrections to calculations made by our staff

It is important that the applicant is made aware that in seeking a review or requesting an appeal that only those allowances set out on the Means Test Form (or Income Assessment Form where the means test was carried out manually) may be claimed against the calculation of their disposable income.

The FOA Review Application Form should be sent with each refusal of legal services on income grounds. It is important to note that an applicant may submit whatever information they like in support of a review. The purpose of the form is to assist the applicant in submitting relevant information in support of a review.

Procedure 4.3  - How to process a request for a review

  1. Take copies of all backing documentation and return the originals to the applicant
  2. Scan and upload the letter from the applicant requesting the appeal, together with any backing documentation enclosed, e.g. bank statements, wage slips etc. to the case on EOS.
  3. The law centre should conduct a new means test and if the person is financially eligible then they follow the steps under “Where the outcome of a review is to grant legal services” below. The remainder of this procedure, which involves a recheck of the person’s financial eligibility by Legal Services, should only be conducted once this step is taken and if a person remains financially ineligible.
  4. Click on the "Documents" tab and click "Make Available to Legal Services" beside the uploaded documents and any other relevant documents on this case
  5. Click on the “Details” tab and in the box “Alerts”, click “create”
  6. Click “User Roles” and select “Legal Services: Submissions Inbox” from the dropdown.
  7. In the Description box, type “FOA review, all relevant documents made available”. If the applicant has enclosed any further information in the letter (rather than backing documentation), e.g. that the child or spousal allowances have been not granted but are being claimed, this may also be highlighted at this point.
  8. The “action due” and “delivery date” fields will default to today’s date. These can be left as they are.
  9. Click “include email” and “acknowledgement required”.
  10. Click “Save Alert”.
  11. Complete the current workflow - "APP001 - Application Received" and proceed to the next workflow "APP002 - Review/Appeal FOA Decision (Law Centre)". Note that the milestone “Application changed from an enquiry to a specific case type” must be Marked Done, but should not actually be carried out i.e. the case should be left in the enquiry case type.
     

Where the outcome of a review is to uphold the original decision to refuse legal services:

  1. Where appropriate Legal Services will update the Means Test Form on EOS to reflect the revised assessment.
  2. Send the applicant the letter “APP002.Letter informing applicant FOA decision upheld”. Where the Means Test Form/Income Assessment Form has been updated a copy of the revised Means Test Form/Income Assessment Form must be enclosed.
  3. After 35 days, where no request for an appeal is received,
    1. Mark the “Appeal requested” milestone as Not Needed.
    2. Close the file, ensuring that the outcome “Financially outside the act is chosen.
    3. The physical file should be stored in similar manner to a withdrawn application (see è Chapter 8 for further details).

 Where the outcome of a review is to grant legal services:

  1. Legal Services will update the Means Test Form on EOS to reflect the revised assessment.
  2. Send the letter “APP02.Positive outcome of review-appeal FOA refusal”, customised appropriately, to the applicant.
  3. On EOS, mark the “Appeal requested milestone” as Not Needed.
  4. Update the case from an enquiry to the correct case type.
  5. Place the case in the “APP003.First Consultation” workflow and click the “Place on applications record” checklist item.

APP02.Letter informing applicant FOA decision upheld after review.
APP002.Review/Appeal FOA Decision workflow

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 dated ___________ 20__, our letter refusing legal services dated ____________________ 20___, and your letter requesting a review /appeal dated ______________ 20__.

Staff in our Head Office have considered your application for a review and the further information you’ve submitted in relation to your application. Following the review, it has been decided that the initial decision to refuse legal services still stands. Your disposable income was calculated as €________, but the law1  states that the Board cannot legally assist any person whose [disposable income is in excess of €18,000] [disposable capital is in excess of €100,00].

 

When we initially refused your application for legal services we sent you a letter which details how we calculate disposable [income] [capital] for the purposes of the Regulations which govern the grant of civil legal aid and advice. We have enclosed an [Income] [Capital] Assessment Form which details how we calculated your disposable [income] [capital] for the purposes of the review in your particular case.

You may appeal this decision to an appeal committee, which consists of members of the Board of the Legal Aid Board. They will consider your appeal and take a decision, which will either be to confirm the decision of the person who decided to refuse legal services, or they may overturn this decision and grant you legal services. Usually, an appeal does not involve you submitting any further information to the Board. You have a month from the date at the top of this letter to submit an appeal, which must be made in writing through this law centre.

Please note if your financial circumstances change in any way you can re-apply for legal services.

Yours sincerely

____________
Jane Jones

Managing Solicitor

1 [Regulation 13(3) of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2017 specifies that “an applicant whose disposable income exceeds €18,000 per annum shall not be eligible to obtain legal aid or advice”.]

[Regulation 13(4) of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2017 specifies that “An applicant whose disposable capital exceeds €100,000 shall not be eligible to obtain legal aid or advice”.]

APP02.Positive outcome of review-appeal FOA refusal
APP002.Review/Appeal FOA Decision workflow

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Mr John Smith

1 Main Street    

Ballymore

Co. Dublin

                                                                                                            1 September 2015

RE: APPLICATION FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Dear Mr Smith,

I refer to your application for legal services dated ___________ 20__, our letter refusing legal services dated ____________________ 20___, and your letter requesting a review dated ______________ 20__.

Staff in our Head Office have considered your application for a review and the further information you’ve submitted in relation to your application. Following the review, we are pleased to inform you that you have been deemed to be financially eligible for legal services

We will write to you when we are in a position to offer you an initial appointment with a solicitor and will advise you of your contribution in advance of the appointment.

Yours sincerely,

__________
Jane Jones

Managing Solicitor

Appeal of decision to refuse legal services on financial eligibility grounds

An applicant may, within one month of the date on the letter informing them that legal services have been refused on financial eligibility grounds (or if they requested a review, within one month of the date they were informed the decision to refuse legal services stands), appeal the decision. An appeal is heard by an Appeal Committee, consisting of non-executive members of the Board.  Legal Services prepare the papers for members of the Committee.

In general, an appeal does not involve the submission of further information to the Board. If an applicant wishes to submit further information a review should be conducted prior to the appeal being made.

It is important that the applicant is made aware that in appealing that only those allowances set out on the Means Test Form (or Income Assessment Form where the means test was carried out manually) may be claimed against the calculation of their disposable income.

Procedure 4.4  - How to process an appeal

  1. The submission of an appeal does not normally involve the submission of further information to the Board. However, if it is necessary to do so, take copies (and scan and upload to the case) any backing documentation and return the originals to the applicant
  2. Scan and upload the letter from the applicant requesting the appeal.
  3. Click on the "Documents" tab and click "Make Available to Legal Services" beside the uploaded documents and any other relevant documents on this case
  4. Click on the “Details” tab and in the box “Alerts”, click “create”
  5. Click “User Roles” and select “Legal Services: Submissions Inbox” from the dropdown.
  6. In the Description box, type “FOA appeal, all relevant documents made available”.
  7. The “action due” and “delivery date” fields will default to today’s date. These can be left as they are.
  8. Click “include email” and “acknowledgement required”.
  9. Click “Save Alert”.
  10. If the applicant did not request a review, complete the current workflow - "APP001 - Application Received" and proceed to the next workflow "APP002 - Review/Appeal FOA Decision (Law Centre)", marking the “Review requested” milestone as not needed. Note that the milestone in APP001 “Application changed from an enquiry to a specific case type” must be Marked Done, but should not actually be carried out i.e. the case should be left in the enquiry case type.
  11. Legal Services will arrange for the appeal to be put before a meeting of an Appeal Committee of the Board and will convey the decision of the Committee to the law centre.
     

Where the outcome of an appeal is to uphold the original decision to refuse legal services:

  1. Send the applicant the letter “APP002.Letter informing applicant FOA decision upheld on appeal” along with a copy of the Committee’s decision..
  2. Mark the “Notify applicant of outcome” checklist item as Confirm Done.
  3. Close the file, ensuring that the outcome “Financially outside the act” is chosen as the Case Outcome.
  4. The physical file should be stored in similar manner to a withdrawn application (see è Chapter 6 for further details).

Where the outcome of an appeal is to overturn the decision of the Executive and grant legal services:

  1. Legal Services will update the Means Test Form on EOS to reflect the revised assessment.
  2. Send the letter “APP02.Positive outcome of appeal of FOA refusal”, to the applicant.
  3. Mark the “Notify applicant of outcome” checklist item as Confirm Done.
  4. Update the case from an enquiry to the correct case type.
  5. Place the case in the “APP003.First Consultation” workflow and click the “Place on applications record” checklist item

APP02.Letter informing applicant FOA decision upheld on appeal
APP002.Review/Appeal FOA Decision workflow

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 dated ___________ 20__, our letter refusing legal services dated ____________________ 20___, and your letter requesting a review /appeal dated ______________ 20__.

We have forwarded your application for an appeal to the Appeal Committee of the Board.  The appeal committee has considered your appeal and it has been decided that the initial decision to refuse legal services stands.   Your disposable [income] [capital] was calculated as €________, but the law1  states that the Board cannot legally assist any person whose disposable [income] is in excess of €18,000] [capital is in excess of €100,000]. A copy of your [income] [capital] assessment form is enclosed along with a copy of the decision of the Appeal Committee.

Please note if your financial circumstances change in any way you can re-apply for legal services.

Yours sincerely,

____________
Jane Jones

Managing Solicitor

1 [Regulation 13(3) of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2017 specifies that “an applicant whose disposable income exceeds €18,000 per annum shall not be eligible to obtain legal aid or advice”.]

[Regulation 13(4) of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2017 specifies that “An applicant whose disposable capital exceeds €100,000 shall not be eligible to obtain legal aid or advice”.]

APP02.Positive outcome of appeal of FOA refusal
APP002.Review/Appeal FOA Decision workflow

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 dated ___________ 20__, our letter refusing legal services dated ____________________ 20___, and your letter requesting a [review] [appeal] dated ______________ 20__.

We have forwarded your application for an appeal to an Appeal Committee of the Board.  The appeal committee has considered your appeal and the initial decision to refuse legal services was overturned. A copy of the decision of the Appeal Committee is enclosed.

We will write to you when we are in a position to offer you an initial appointment with a solicitor and will advise you of your contribution in advance of the appointment.

Yours sincerely,

__________
Jane Jones

Managing Solicitor

Placing of applicants who have had a successful review or appeal on the applications record

The Board cannot disadvantage an applicant who was found financially ineligible due to an error in its calculations. Accordingly, any applicant who was initially deemed financially ineligible, but who is successful in a review or appeal of this initial decision, should be retrospectively placed on the applications record by reference to the date of their original financial assessment.

On EOS, no special steps need be taken and this will automatically be done provided the instructions in è Procedure 4.3 are followed.

For the avoidance of doubt, the above only applies to a person who seeks a review or appeal within the limits provided by the Act and Regulations. It does not apply to a person who is refused legal services and makes a fresh application for legal services at a later date following a change in financial circumstances.

Dealing with requests for information about services provided by private solicitors

A person who is deemed financially ineligible or who has been told the matter which they wish to pursue is outside the Board’s remit may seek information regarding services offered by private solicitors.

Under no circumstances may a staff member of the Board recommend any particular private solicitor. They may not give out the details of any private solicitor except to a client of the Board who has been referred to a private practitioner, and then (save where either this Handbook or the terms and conditions of the particular panel provides otherwise) only as part of the panel of private practitioners (Chapter 6).   If a private solicitor or law firm requests that the law centre provide any form of advertising (posters, business cards, etc) for the practice/firm the request should be forwarded to the Managing Solicitor. In accordance with Board policy, managing solicitors must politely refuse all such requests.

However the private solicitor/managing partner of the firm should be informed of the application procedure for the Board’s Private Practitioner Schemes and/or the telephone number/address for Head Office, if they request same.

Staff should bear in mind that the Board’s family mediation services are currently free and should give details of the nearest mediation office if the application relates to a family law matter.