Guidance

Apply for legal aid

Legal aid application forms and guidance for civil and crime work: apply online or through CCMS, deal with high cost or exceptional cases.

How to apply

If you think your client may qualify for legal aid, you’ll need to:

  • help your client fill in the forms or apply online
  • help your client get the right evidence
  • complete the checklist where applicable
  • send an electronic application or paper forms (where applicable) to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA)

Categories of law

The 2 main categories of law paid for by the LAA are civil (including controlled work) and criminal.

There are also a number of cases outside of mainstream funding:

Make a civil application

When you’ve checked your client’s eligibility for civil legal aid, fill in 1 of the civil means-testing forms and the appropriate civil application forms as required by the LAA.

You can also apply online through the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) if you have been invited to use the system. You can access CCMS through the online portal.

Controlled work applications

Find the controlled work forms you need before applying for legal help funding or for controlled legal representation at mental health tribunal proceedings or before the first-tier tribunal in asylum or immigration.

Supply the correct evidence

Make sure you have the correct evidence, such as bank statements or remittance slips. What’s needed is stated on the individual forms but incorrect or incomplete evidence remains a common reason for applications being delayed or rejected.

CCMS will provide an evidence checklist as part of the online application process.

Complete the checklist (paper applications only)

Many applications are rejected for avoidable reasons, such as the form being unsigned, not dated or incomplete.

You can save time by following the checklist for new applications.

Where to send your forms

Legal Aid Agency
Unit B8, Berkley Way, Viking Business Park
Jarrow, South Tyneside
NE31 1SF

Email: contactcivil@justice.gov.uk

Phone: 0300 200 2020

DX: 742350 Jarrow

Where to send controlled work forms

Mental Health Unit, Immigration & Asylum: Controlled Work and Escaped Fee Claims
Legal Aid Agency
Level 6, The Capital
Union Street
Liverpool
L3 9AF

DX: 745810 Liverpool 35

Email: mhu-ec@justice.gov.uk

Phone: 0151 235 6750

Uploading documents for online applications made through CCMS

You can either upload documents directly onto CCMS or send documents to be scanned to:

Legal Aid Agency
(Central Postal Hub)
Unit 1, Apollo 26 Industrial Park
Charles Way
Bulwell
Nottingham
NG6 8RF

DX 324205

Length of application process for paper and online applications

85% of applications for civil legal aid are processed in 20 working days.

85% of applications for more funds to progress a case are processed in 10 working days.

Go to this page for more information about civil processing dates

How to get paid

When your case comes to a close, you’ll need to get paid. You will need to submit a claim.

Further questions (including the email process)

If you have queries about your paper application (for CCMS applications see CCMS queries) email: contactcivil@justice.gov.uk

Emails sent into Contact Civil are separated into 4 categories, depending on the keyword used within the subject title of the email.

The 4 boxes are for merits, means, finance and counsel work.

Below is a list of examples you should use depending on the work you are submitting:

Query relating to: Include in subject header
Legal queries Merits, APP 8, APP6
Financial assessment queries Means, further information, review, reassessment
Querying or chasing the bill Solicitor bill, CLAIM 1, CLAIM 1A
Family Graduated Fees (FGF) or Family Advocacy Scheme (FAS) queries Counsel bill , CLAIM 5A, CLAIM 5

For example:

  • your query relates to the legal aspect of a case, then you should include the word ‘Merits’ in your subject header, along with case reference number
  • you are attaching further information relating to the financial circumstances of a client then you should include the word ‘Further information’

This will allow us to direct your enquiry to the correct team. If you do not use the correct keyword there may be a delay dealing with your enquiry.

To enable us to locate your client on the system please include your client’s legal aid certificate number. If you don’t have a certificate number, use your client’s name and date of birth or address.

Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) queries

If your query is about a CCMS case you should use the case enquiry task button. Alternatively, if your query is more general and not case specific you should use the general enquiry task button. Please visit the Contacts page of the CCMS website for details of who to contact in the following scenarios:

  1. When you have a CCMS query
  2. When you are unable to access CCMS due to a technical issue
  3. When you have an urgent query
  4. When you have feedback for the CCMS team
  5. If you would like to make a complaint
  6. If you are dissatisfied with the complaint response that you have received
  7. If you need to post documents

Contacts page of the CCMS website.

Make a crime application

To apply for criminal legal aid for legal representation in the courts, your client must complete a CRM14 eForm with you. Depending on the type of case and where it’s being heard, they may have to provide information in relation to:

  • income
  • outgoings
  • capital and equity

The eForm will tell you what evidence is required based on answers to the questions.

Depending on the type of case and where it’s being heard they may need to pass a means test (financial) and a merits test, Interests of Justice (IoJ), to be eligible. If eligible, the means test will also determine how much they may have to contribute towards their legal aid in the Crown court.

Find out how to work out who qualifies

Length of application process

Our targets are as follows:

  • 95% of criminal legal aid applications to be processed in 2 working days (100% in 6 working days)
  • 100% of administrative appeals to be processed in 2 working days

Go to this page for more information about crime processing dates

Contact details

The Crime Applications Teams (CAT) process the majority of applications, whilst the National Crime Team (NCT) process:

  • Applications where the client’s finances are more complicated – which we refer to as ‘complex means’
  • Applications for a review on the grounds of hardship
  • Applications for an eligibility review (where applicant has been refused legal aid for their Crown court trial)
  • Non means tested applications

A single telephone number should be used for enquiries about criminal legal aid applications including complex means, hardship, contributions and eForm portal support:

Criminal applications helpline: 0300 200 2020
9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays

Emails and correspondence for the attention of CAT should be sent to the relevant team:

CAT Birmingham

Legal Aid Agency - CAT
1st Floor, Cannon House
18 The Priory
Queensway
Birmingham
B4 6BS

DX: 13041 Birmingham 1

Email: BirminghamCAT@justice.gov.uk

CAT Nottingham

Legal Aid Agency - CAT
Fothergill House
16 King Street
Nottingham
NG1 2AS

DX: 10035 Nottingham 1

Email: NottinghamCAT@justice.gov.uk

CAT Liverpool

Legal Aid Agency – CAT
Level 6, The Capital
Union Street
Liverpool
L3 9AF

DX: 745810 Liverpool 35

Email: LiverpoolCAT@justice.gov.uk

Emails for the attention of NCT should be sent to: Nationalcrimeteam@justice.gov.uk

Correspondence for the attention of NCT should be sent to the relevant team:

NCT Nottingham

Legal Aid Agency - NCT
Fothergill House
16 King Street
Nottingham
NG1 2AS

DX: 10035 Nottingham 1

NCT Liverpool

Legal Aid Agency - NCT
Level 6, The Capital
Union Street
Liverpool
L3 9AF

DX: 745810 Liverpool 35

How to get paid

When your case comes to a close, you’ll need to get paid using the crime claim forms.

Appealing a decision

If your client’s application is refused, you can appeal.

Depending on what you applied for, there may be an appeal form with your reply or if you applied through CCMS, you can appeal online. Find out more about means and merits appeals.

If you wish to appeal the assessment of a bill, go to appealing assessments on controlled and licensed work.

If your client’s application is refused on merits (Interests of Justice) an appeal pro forma may be completed and sent to:

iojappeals@justice.gov.uk

If your client believes an error has been made with the means assessment you can ask for a review, as set out in the criminal legal aid manual.

If your client believes paying privately will cause them financial hardship they can apply using the CRM16 form for LAA to consider additional expenditure and the likely costs of the case. Find out more about means testing.

If you wish to appeal the assessment of a bill, go to appealing assessments on controlled and licensed work.

Complaints

If you wish to make a complaint about any application for legal aid, please go to our complaints procedure.

Published 1 June 2014
Last updated 6 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. Partial governance check completed.

  2. Change of address to send documents to be scanned to.

  3. Content updated.

  4. 'Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) queries' information updated.

  5. Updated to include Criminal Applications Team (CAT) HMCTS clusters in Nottingham, Birmingham and Liverpool.

  6. Updated contact details - Criminal Application Team, Liverpool

  7. First published.