Information disclosure Gateways with other government departments: Legal Aid Agency (formerly Legal Services Commission)
The Legal Aid Agency
The Legal Services Commission was abolished with effect from 1 April 2013 and replaced with the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) (an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice).
The LAA is the body responsible for the administration of Legal Aid in England and Wales. Legal Aid supports access to justice, by ensuring people who might not otherwise be able to afford it have access to legal representation for certain categories of legal action.
Sharing information with the Legal Aid Agency
The LAA runs the Legal Aid scheme which is overseen by the Ministry of Justice with a budget set by the Treasury. In order to ensure that Legal Aid is granted to appropriate applicants, the LAA need to verify the information they receive when someone makes a claim for Legal Aid.
The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 came into force on 1 April 2013, and S22 provides that ‘an information request may be made only for the purposes of facilitating a determination about an individual’s financial resources for the purposes of this Part’ (ie whether they are eligible financially for Legal Aid).
The Legal Aid (Information about Financial Resources) Regulations 2013 extend the scope of the information which the LAA may request from HMRC but this is still only for the purpose of determining eligibility for Legal Aid.
Ensuring information is shared lawfully
All disclosures of HMRC information must be lawful. Please see IDG40300 for more information on lawful disclosure as provided by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005.
To be lawful, HMRC may only share information with the LAA through a legal gateway. See IDG40320 for general information about what a legal gateway is. The appropriate legal gateway to use is listed below.
You must also ensure when passing information to the LAA that you follow the agreed procedure for disclosures. Details are listed below.
Procedure for disclosure
Only authorised B&C staff may disclose information. The LAA will provide details of the Legal Aid cases that they wish to verify to the B&C Multi-Agency Team (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) who will then respond providing the relevant information in accordance with the agreed legal gateway.
Legislation which allows disclosure
- S22 Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
- Legal Aid (Information about Financial Resources) Regulations 2013.
This legislation applies to England and Wales only.