Guidance

Legal aid: apply for exceptional case funding

Overview, how to apply, where to send paperwork and how long the exceptional case funding (ECF) process takes.

Overview

Sometimes people can get legal aid even though their case is not in the scope of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

This is known as exceptional case funding (ECF). An ECF team within the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) deals with these cases.

To qualify for ECF, you must meet the ECF criteria as set out in LASPO and described in the Lord Chancellor’s funding guidance.

You must also be financially eligible for legal aid and your case must meet the merits criteria to qualify.

You may apply for ECF to enable you to provide legal help to investigate the possibility of a client applying for ECF.

For providers with a civil contract and access to CCMS applications for exceptional funding for licensed work should be submitted using CCMS. For controlled work, for individual case contracts, fill in the form CIV ECF1. You will also need to provide details of your client’s financial circumstances.

More details about ECF are available for non-inquests in the provider information pack and for inquests in the inquest provider information pack.

A client can also apply directly for ECF.

Evidence and checklist

Make sure all the appropriate evidence is sent with the forms. Do the simple checklist. Both are explained on the form.

More information

Read the Lord Chancellor’s funding guidance.

How to apply: for the public

You can apply directly to the ECF team at the Legal Aid Agency. You don’t have to name a solicitor in the application.

We cannot give you legal advice on the merits of your underlying case but we will consider your application and let you know if we need further information to decide your application.

How to apply

The forms are designed to help you provide the right information in your legal aid application. Complete them as much as you can.

As a minimum, send the following to us in writing:

  1. Background to your case, including all the main facts.
  2. What you need legal advice on or what court proceedings you need representation in. Explain why you cannot represent yourself.
  3. What outcome you wish to achieve.
  4. Information that will support your application e.g. court applications and orders, expert and medical reports, copies of any decisions you wish to challenge.
  5. Information on your financial situation.

For family or civil proceedings submit:

ECF form - CIV ECF 1 - the reason for applying for exceptional case funding

With either:

CIV APP 3 – application for legal aid in family proceedings

or

CIV APP 1 - application for civil legal aid certificate

Also with a relevant means form:

CIV MEANS 1 – means assessment form for legal aid clients not on Income Support or other passporting benefits

CIV MEANS 2 – means assessment form for people on Income Support or employment benefits who want to apply for legal aid

ECF form - CIV ECF 1 - the reason for applying for exceptional case funding

With

CW1 – financial eligibility for legal aid clients

For representation in immigration tribunal proceedings:

ECF form - CIV ECF 1 - the reason for applying for exceptional case funding

With

CW2 (IMM) – for representation

Where to send forms and applications

Email: contactECC@justice.gov.uk

If you have a lot of attachments which make the e-mail submission large please submit by using more than one email and tell us this is what you are doing.

When your application will be processed

Applications are usually processed within 25 working days.

If we agree a case is urgent, we will prioritise it and make a decision within 10 working days. You can tell us the case is urgent on the ECF1 form and in the e-mail.

What happens next?

Once we have processed your application we’ll send you a decision and let you know the next steps. If we approve your application, you’ll still need to find a legal adviser to take on your case, and your adviser will need to contact us to confirm this.

We have the right to change our decision either way if, for example, we receive new information or evidence. Whatever decision we make, you can seek help from a legal adviser.

Funding for Coronavirus Act appeals

Appeals to a magistrates’ court to challenge restrictions or requirements under the Coronavirus Act are not in scope of legal aid. Individuals will need to apply for ECF for these cases.

This work is classified as Miscellaneous Work. This means that any provider with a 2018 Standard Civil Contract can apply for ECF under the terms of their contract.

How to apply

The LAA has produced new forms for these applications. Please fill in and return the relevant forms.

Legal Help ECF Covid 19 (PDF, 558KB, 5 pages) - application for legal help in Coronavirus Act Appeals

With

CW1 – financial eligibility for legal aid clients

CIVAPP1ECF Covid 19 (PDF, 300KB, 13 pages) - application for legal representation

With

CIV MEANS 1 – means assessment form for legal aid clients not on Income Support or other passporting benefits

or

CIV MEANS 2 – means assessment form for people on Income Support or employment benefits who want to apply for legal aid

Where to send the form

E-mail LegalAidCovid19Appeals@justice.gov.uk

This e-mail address can also be used for any questions you might have about these applications.

Further information

Customer Services Team 0300 200 2020 – support with submitting your application

Support with accessing our services

Guidance on finding a legal adviser

Search for a legal aid adviser

Covid-19 LAA contingency information

Published 1 June 2014
Last updated 23 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Published new version of the CIVAPP1ECF Covid 19 form with updated privacy notice. These changes are part of our preparations for exiting the European Union once the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

  2. Updated with guidance on how to make applications for Corona Act appeals.

  3. direct applicant guidance amendments

  4. Guidance updated, Target times and address

  5. Address updated.

  6. Information for clients included

  7. First published.