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.
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.
How to apply - for legal aid providers
You may apply for ECF to enable you to provide legal help to investigate the possibility of a client applying for ECF.
For any application for ECF, fill in the form CIV ECF1. You will also need to provide details of your client’s financial circumstances.
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.
How to apply - for the public
You can apply directly to the Exceptional Case Funding team at the Legal Aid Agency. You don’t have to name a solicitor in the application.
How to apply
The forms are designed to help you provide the right information in your legal aid application, but you don’t have to use them. You must sign your application, whatever format you have made it in.
The CIV ECF1 form asks questions about why you’re applying for exceptional case funding. The means and merits forms ask questions about your financial circumstances and your case. If you have questions about which form to use, phone us or email the Exceptional Case Funding Team(ECF).
As a minimum, send the following to us in writing:
- Background to your case, including all the main facts.
- What you need legal advice on or what court proceedings you need representation in. Explain why you cannot represent yourself.
- What outcome you wish to achieve.
- Information that will support your application eg court applications and orders, expert and medical reports, copies of any decisions you wish to challenge.
- Information on your financial situation.
We cannot give you legal advice on the merits of your underlying case but we will consider your application.
What happens next?
We’ll send you a decision in writing. 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.
Where to send forms and applications
Exceptional Case Funding Team (ECF)
Legal Aid Agency (8.51)
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ
DX: 161440 Westminster 8
Telephone: 0203 334 6060
When your application will be processed
Applications are usually processed within 20 working days.
If we agree a case is urgent, we will prioritise it and make a decision within 5 working days. You can tell us the case is urgent on the ECF1 form.
If your application is successful, funding can be backdated.