Storing and destroying non-client files
An applicant may not proceed to become a client for a number of reasons:-
- they withdraw their application; or
- their application is rejected; or
- having been made an offer of an appointment with a solicitor, they do not respond or otherwise contact the law centre.
An applicant may withdraw their application for legal advice and/or aid and decide not to proceed with the matter. Their application form and accompanying documentation should remain on the applications lever arch file for the year in question. Lever arch files containing application forms that have not been pursued should be retained for a period of at least three years after the end of year in question e.g, the 2011 lever arch file should be retained until 2015 and should be destroyed then.
Where a completed application is closed prior to receiving a second consultation the “application not pursued” closure reason must be used
The application of a person who has been refused legal services must remain open for at least 35 days after a refusal letter has been issued. Following that, if no appeal has been made, the application should be closed (and the case should be closed on EOS by click the Set Outcome link) and treated in similar manner to a withdrawn application.
In the event of an appeal the application should be kept open for the duration of the appeal. In the event that the refusal decision is upheld, the application should then be treated similarly to a withdrawn application.
Law centres open and maintain files relating to invoices, payments, and other general correspondence relating to the administration of the law centre.
These files must be kept separate from applications and client files and must be retained no longer than necessary. Law centres should seek guidance from the appropriate Head Office section as to the length of time such correspondence should be held on file. Files relating to the financial records of the centre must be retained for a period of seven years and should then be destroyed.
A law centre will normally hold a number of files in relation to applicants who do not proceed to becoming clients and files relating to the administration of the law centre.