New point of principle (PoP) on powers of assessors when considering provider’s use of delegated functions to determine financial eligibility.
The Cost Appeals Committee has certified PoP CLA59 about the powers assessors have when looking at eligibility determinations which involve an element of discretion.
It means that assessors can only overturn determinations where the provider’s use of discretion can be shown to have been ‘manifestly unreasonable’.
Relevant for civil and crime
PoP CLA59 applies to both civil and criminal legal aid and concerns the exercise of discretion by providers where this is required by the relevant financial regulations.
Providers should note that CLA59 does not override any mandatory regulatory or contractual provisions relating to the assessment of means.
For example, it could not be used to side-step the eligibility thresholds set out in the regulations or the need to obtain sufficient evidence of means.
Any determination that an individual is financially eligible for legal services must comply with all relevant regulatory and contractual provisions.
You can read the full wording of PoP CLA59 in the PoP Manual, which is available to download on GOV.UK – see link below.
Lord Chancellor’s guidance
Providers should continue to refer to the Lord Chancellor’s guidance on financial eligibility determinations when carrying out means assessments – see link below.
We will usually consider positive legal aid determinations as “manifestly unreasonable” where the decision is in direct conflict with our published financial eligibility guidance.
Points of principle of general importance – GOV.UK guidance page where you can download ‘PoP manual’ to review wording of CLA59
Legal aid guidance – to download Lord Chancellor’s guidance
Published: 9 March 2017
From: Legal Aid Agency