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Opening a file

A physical file should be opened where possible, immediately prior to the first consultation and according to the procedure below:

Procedure 8.1 – Opening a client file

  1. Keep a supply of file folders and treasury tags easily accessible.
  2. Punch a hole in the top left hand corner of the file folder and insert a treasury tag through this.
  3. Place on the file the application form on the left hand cover together with copies of any documentation retained in support of the application.
  4. Give the client file the number assigned by the IT system.
  5. Copies of all correspondence must be retained on the file in reverse chronological order (latest correspondence first).
  6. The financial contribution payable and the amount paid by the client should be recorded at the top left on the inside cover of the file.
  7. Staple a checklist to the front of the file and fill it in as each step is completed.
  8. Prepare a suspension file and tab.
  9. File as appropriate according to the system in the law centre, or hand to the solicitor for storage.

It must be recorded on the client file that the client has been sent the Board’s standard terms and conditions letter. The standard letter (as illustrated in Chapter 5) must be used and may not be altered in way without prior authority of the Director of Civil Legal Aid.

The standard letter incorporates the Board’s obligations under Section 68 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 to outline the basis on which it intends to charge clients.

Terms and conditions letters do not need to be sent to clients referred to the solicitors panels. However, separate Section 68 letters must be sent to all clients referred to the Circuit Court solicitors panel, unless they have already been sent the Board’s terms and conditions letter. This is dealt with in Chapter 6, which contains a template letter for this purpose.