On Monday 1 April 2013, the Legal Services Commission was replaced by the Legal Aid Agency, and the cuts imposed by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 took effect.
This has affected some of the services the Law Centre can offer.
LASPO implements substantial scope cuts to civil legal aid.
You cannot get legal aid for:
- Welfare Benefits (except for appeals to the upper tribunal or higher courts from October 2013)
We can still help you if you are homeless, at immediate risk of homelessness, when possession proceedings have been issued, if you have been illegally evicted, have disrepairs that are so bad that they are causing serious health problems or if there issues of antisocial behaviour.
We have a contract to run the county court desk scheme at Uxbridge, High Wycombe and Aylesbury County Courts so we may be able to advise you at the court on the day of your possession hearing.
We do have a contract to deliver family law advice, casework and representation from 1st April 2013. Under the new family legal aid rules, legal aid will only be available if you have evidence to show that you are a victim of domestic violence, this applies to women and men. There are some other issues covered by Legal Aid. We would have to see you for a free initial appointment to assess your case.
The Ministry of Justice is drafting guidance and template letters to help clients get the evidence they need. You can find more information here:
LASPO implements a mandatory telephone gateway for three categories of work (at Legal Help level).
- Special educational needs (SEN)
The exceptions are when the client:
- Is in detention (including prison, a detention centre or secure hospital), or
- Is under 18, or
- Has been previously assessed by the gateway as needing face-to-face advice, has received this advice within the last 12 months, and is seeking further help to solve a linked problem from the same provider.
The Telephone Gateway details are:
Telephone: 0845 345 4 345
Minicom: 0845 609 6677
Monday to Friday: 9am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 12:30pm
Calls cost 4p a minute from a BT landline. Mobile calls usually cost more.
Our immigration services will not be affected by the legal aid cuts as we have other funding for our immigration services from Hillingdon Community Trust and Hounslow Council however you must live the funded catchment area to be eligible.
Although you cannot get legal aid for employment we have funding from Trust for London to provide advice, casework and representation for disadvantaged people living in West London. Demand for this service is likely to be high as it is a free service.
Free Legal Advice
In some cases if a person is very vulnerable or destitute we may still be able to book an appointment for you to see a solicitor free of charge for basic advice. You would need to telephone us for more information. We are no longer able to offer free sessions for Civil Litigation or issues relating to Wills and Probate.
What to do if you cannot access free specialist legal advice
If we cannot help you and you cannot access any free specialist legal advice for your legal problem then you can contact your MP or local councillor. Their contact details can be found on your local borough council website or you can contact us and we can give you the information.
Guidance from the government on how to access legal aid: