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The Dolphin House Service

The Board has established an office in Dolphin House where the Dublin Metropolitan District Court sits.  The office is a dedicated service dealing with family law matters in the District Court by referring them to the solicitors panel.                                                                                

Guidelines for the granting of certificates by the Dolphin House Service

  • All applicants who have taken or are defending proceedings instituted on foot of the domestic violence legislation should be granted a Private Practitioner certificate, or assigned a solicitor immediately;
  • Applicants who have been served with an application to enforce on foot of section 9A of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976 should be granted a Private Practitioner certificate or assigned a solicitor immediately;
  • Any applicant who has been granted a Private Practitioner certificate for another matter within the previous 12 months, and who is seeking to institute proceedings under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 or for maintenance should be referred to a law centre of their choice save that if an application is made to enforce a Maintenance Order that has been made within the previous 12 months, a Private Practitioner certificate may be issued for the purpose of seeking to enforce the Order. Not more than one such certificate should be issued in any 12 month period. This restriction does not apply to Respondents to proceedings.
  • Applicants referred to law centres should be placed on the applications record as of the date of their application to the Board; and
  • Applicants for custody / access / guardianship should only be referred to a Private Practitioner if they have obtained information from a mediation office about the possibility of seeking a mediated solution to their issue.
  • Applicants seeking legal aid for an appeal of a District Court family law matter for which they were legally aided at first instance and were represented by a private solicitor may be referred to the solicitors’ panel on the basis that they will engage the same private solicitor.

These instructions will be monitored and amended as necessary, depending on the Board’s capacity to fund the service.

Referring clients to the Dolphin House Service

If a person presents at a law centre and comes within the criteria set out in the previous paragraph for the granting of a private practitioner certificate, the person should be referred to the Dolphin House Service unless the law centre is in a position to provide an immediate service.  If the person does not meet the criteria the person should not be referred to the Dolphin House Service.     

Applicants who are referred to the Dolphin House Service should not be entered on the centre’s applications record.  All other applicants should be dealt with by the law centre and should be placed on the applications record.  Depending on the nature of the matter for which they have applied for legal services, self help information may be made available to them.

Procedure 6.1 – Referring a personal caller to the Dolphin House Service

  1. Establish that the matter is one which falls within the scope of the Dolphin House Service (see previous page), by enquiring with the applicant, and checking any summons issued. Establish whether or not the applicant is eligible for passporting (see Chapter 3)
  2. Give the applicant a copy of the appropriate application form.
  3. Advise the applicant to post the form, together with proof of their income and any allowances being claimed, to Dolphin House Service, Legal Aid Board, Dolphin House, East Essex Street, Dublin D02 RR76 and give them contact details of the Service.
  4. Advise the applicant that the Dolphin House Service will contact them directly.

It is important that staff are aware of the current instructions regarding the referring of cases to the Dolphin House office.