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Amendments to civil legal aid eligibility criteria

The Legal Aid Agency has announced that compensation provided to claimants of specific compensation schemes will now be disregarded when assessing civil legal aid eligibility.

The LAA has implemented the changes made to the regulations to ensure that claimants of specific compensation schemes are not disadvantaged in applying for legal aid.

There will now be a mandatory disregard for the following schemes, when applying for civil legal aid:

In addition, there will be a discretionary approach applied to the following schemes:

As a result of receiving a compensation payment from these compensation schemes or any connected payment (e.g. to a relative) some individuals applying for legal aid would have failed the financial eligibility criteria if the change to the means test had not been made, due to such payments being considered as income or capital.

Mortgage cap removal
The legislation also removes the existing cap on the amount of mortgage debt that can be deducted from a property's value, so that all mortgage debt will be deducted. This means that more individuals will pass the financial eligibility criteria for civil legal aid. This change will come into effect from 28 January 2021.