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Crime news: tips to reduce complex application rejects

How to avoid rejects for defendants with complex financial circumstances.

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Nearly 40% of applications for defendants with complex financial circumstances are rejected because of missing or incomplete information.

Below are some tips to avoid your applications being rejected.

Complex financial circumstances include:

  • self-employed
  • in a business partnership
  • a company director
  • in the armed forces
  • subject to a restraint or freezing order

Complete the right form

The best way to avoid rejects is to use the CRM14 eForm instead of the old paper form. This automatically brings up the appropriate questions for you to answer in complex circumstances, as long as the case type is correct i.e. summary or either way.

If you use a paper form then CRM14 and CRM15 is required with all the relevant sections completed, together with a CRM15c if you are directed to provide this.

Missing financial information

We need as much information as possible about this including cases where the applicant has no income or receives help from family and friends. Make sure you include details of their housing costs.

Defendants are not required to provide evidence if they are remanded into custody and their case remains in the magistrates’ court. They do, however, need to provide information about how they were supporting themselves before they were taken into custody.

If the case is in the Crown Court a defendant must provide evidence to support their income and outgoings. This applies regardless of whether they have been remanded into custody. We will make a decision on an application without this evidence, but it must be provided within 14 days.

Send in all relevant documents

A request for further information is the most common reason for rejecting applications with complex financial circumstances.

If the applicant is self-employed, they must provide accounts or a tax return (SA100). Unfortunately, a tax calculation sheet (SA302) is not adequate evidence of self-employed income when submitted on its own.

It should be accompanied by a tax return, accounts or bank statements. This is because it does not cover all types of income that a self-employed applicant may receive.

If the business is very new or particularly small and there are no accounts or HMRC documents available, it is advisable to submit at least three months bank statements from all accounts held.

These need to be annotated to show which ones are self-employed income credits and which ones are business expenses. If the applicant does not have access to a bank account then a cashbook or invoices are sufficient.

Where the applicant is employed, you should ensure they provide the amount of their salary and most recent wage slip or salary advice, which must be from the last three months.

Further information

Legal aid: crime eForm

Published 29 October 2015