A lot of criminal legal aid applications are being rejected because of missing or incomplete information.
The best way to avoid this is to use the CRM14 eForm instead of the old paper form.
This is now available across England and Wales and helps by alerting you when the form is incomplete.
These alerts are not available on paper forms. So, if you do submit paper CRM14s it is important that you remember to complete each section, including the declaration by the applicant, their partner and the solicitor.
We also reject eForm applications when further information or evidence is required, or an application has already been received for that applicant’s case.
Here are some tips for both paper and eForms:
Tell us about the offence
Applications will be rejected if there is insufficient case information about the offence the client is charged with.
This is needed so we can:
- consider the Interests of Justice (IOJ) test
- link to the correct court proceedings
- issue a representation order covering the correct offences
In the past Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service processed these applications and were able to check individual court files. But the Legal Aid Agency does not have access to this information.
Missing financial information
A request for further information about an applicant’s means of support is the most common financial reason for a reject.
We need as much information as possible about this including cases where the applicant has no income or receives help from family and friends.
Where clients have a declared income, and they are not remanded in custody, they need to provide evidence of this.
Clients in custody do not need to provide income evidence. But they do need to show how they were supporting themselves before remand.
Check whether an application has already been submitted for your client as we sometimes receive more than one application for a particular offence.
It is worthwhile noting that it is not just different defence organisations that submit applications for the same client – we often receive duplicate applications from within the same firm.
When to avoid using the CRM14 form
Reviews of IOJ refusals and requests to transfer a representation order to a different firm should not be made on a CRM14 form. There are specific proformas for these issues – see below.
Criminal legal aid processing: applications and digital systems – to download proformas dealing with IOJ refusals and representation order transfer requests
Legal aid: eForms – find out more about eForms