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Changes in Legal Aid Capital Assessment

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It has long been an issue that if a person has equity in a property over and above £8,000 (after all disregards are taken into consideration) then they will be refused Legal Aid on the basis of having too much capital. This has prevented many from obtaining Legal Aid. The capital in the property is not accessible for many and is known as “trapped capital”.

There was a Judgment handed down in the case of R (oao GR) v DLAC [2020] EWHC 3140 (Admin) in November 2020 which has now come into force to deal with this very issue.

This Judgment confirms the Legal Aid Agency has to use its discretion on a case by case basis as “the State has an obligation under Articles 6 and 8 to provide legal aid where it is necessary to provide and effective access to Justice”.

It is therefore the case that the Legal Aid Agency must now consider a person’s circumstances and use their discretion in a trapped capital case to ensure that those who require Legal Aid can access it. This is done on a case by case basis and is not guaranteed, but it is encouraging that it is recognised that trapped equity should not stop a person accessing justice. This is a step in the right direction to help people access the representation they require.

At Johnson Astills we have a dedicated Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) to help clients access the justice and advice they need, whether this be to protect themselves or to protect their children and family. If you require any assistance to protect yourself from your ex-partner or a member of your family, or protect your children, or simply to seek assistance for arrangements for your children, please contact us on 0116 255 4855 to see how we can assist you.