Consumer contracts regulations do not apply to legal aid work.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed that the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (CCRs) do not apply to legal aid cases.
The reason why the CCRs will not be triggered is because there is no ‘service contract’ as defined under these regulations.
In many cases no payment is made by the client (the ‘consumer’) to the solicitor (the ‘trader’). This is because the legal aid services are provided free of charge to the client – for example in all police station cases.
There are legal aid cases where the client is required to make a payment towards the services they receive. For example, Crown Court means testing cases and family cases where the statutory charge bites.
Statutory obligations under Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO)
But even here payment is not actually made by the client to the solicitors but rather to the Lord Chancellor in accordance with statutory obligations under LASPO.
This means that legal aid cases involving payment by the client would also fall outside the remit of the CCRs.
The CCRs came into force on 13 June 2014 and replaced the provisions in both the:
- Distance Selling Regulations 2000
- Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home, Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008
The government is anxious to ensure that the new regulations work as intended in the interests of all consumers without placing unnecessary burdens on the businesses which serve them.
The Law Society has published further information about this on its website.