We are rejecting a large number of criminal legal aid applications because the assessment information we need is missing.
You can avoid a lot of issues by using the CRM14 eForm instead of the old paper form. This is now being rolled out across England and Wales.
The eForm has the benefit of helping to ensure that all the information is completed before the application is made and reduces the potential for rejected applications.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help avoid this problem:
Make sure all the questions are answered. If they haven’t been answered and the information is needed to process the application then the form will have to be returned.
Examples of missing information include:
- evidence of income
- bank account details
- whether the applicant is in custody and has a partner
These examples are covered in more detail below.
Missing income evidence
Where the applicant has a declared income, and they are not remanded in court custody, they need to provide evidence of this.
Fully complete the declaration section
The declarations for the applicant, their partner, and the defence representative need to be completed by all the relevant parties.
In particular the defence representative must tick 1 only of the 2 boxes above their signature to confirm their status. The form should be signed and dated.
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.
Clarify how the defendant/their partner are supporting themselves
For magistrates’ court applications where no income is declared, or an applicant’s income is less than their outgoings, we ask that they provide information about how they are supporting themselves. For example, are they relying on friends or relatives?
CRM14: criminal legal aid application form
Criminal legal aid processing: applications and digital systems
Praise for CRM14 eForms in crime provider survey – news story with provider feedback