Applications to the Criminal Cases Review Commission
Public funding under the Advice and Assistance Scheme is available for applications to the CCRC if the applicant is financially eligible and the case is deemed to merit work under public funds. Only solicitors with a Contract for general criminal or appeal work with the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) can undertake such work under this scheme.
The financial limitations of the scheme are severe. There is a capital limit starting from £1000 and a weekly disposable income limit of £99 (with some account taken of dependents). In addition the income and capital of the potential client’s partner are taken into account even if the individual is in prison and has been for many years unless they consider themselves to be separated.
The solicitor will have to be satisfied that there is Sufficient Benefit in providing advice under the scheme and it is not available for individuals to merely seek a second opinion about their conviction or sentence without any reason to challenge the accuracy of the initial advice. There are limitations on providing advice under the scheme to those who have already had advice under the scheme.
If you wish to seek advice under this scheme you should approach a solicitor for a more detailed explanation and to see whether you qualify for such advice.
No solicitor is obliged to work under the scheme and many will refuse to take on such cases or will limit the number of such cases that they deal with given the paucity of funding available.
Appeals other than CCRC applications
If you are seeking advice from a solicitor who was not involved in your case at trial, the same Advice and Assistance Scheme may be available to you subject to the same limitations. This may allow the solicitor to provide advice as to whether an application for permission (known as “leave”) to appeal can be made to the Court of Appeal (or indeed the Crown Court) out of time, the normal time limit being 28 days. Initial advice on appeal is given by the trial advocate under the trial legal aid representation order.
Advice under this scheme is not available once an application for leave to appeal ahs bene submitted to the Court of Appeal. From that point any public funding has to be provided by the Court of Appeal, if it is available at all.
After leave is granted
If you are fortunate enough to have leave to appeal granted, legal aid will normally be granted by the Court of Appeal. However, legal aid is most likely to be limited in scope and only to include representation by an advocate (either a barrister or a solicitor advocate) and not to include any work by a solicitor in support of the advocate.
Application can be made to extend the funding to include litigation support by the solicitor in due course and such applications are considered by the Court of Appeal.
Public funding is generally known as legal aid. It is available for advice on appeal in some cases but not in every case. Where public funding is not available, it is possible for the person requiring the advice to pay privately for that advice.
If leave is refused
If the Single Judge at the Court of Appeal refuses leave to appeal, the application can be renewed to the full court. However, no public funding is available for such applications
If the individual is not eligible financially for advice under the Advice and Assistance scheme, as already lodged grounds of appeal or has had leave refused and is renewing the application, solicitors and barristers will accept cases on a privately funded basis where the individual appellant or family and friends pay for the advice and representation. Each firm and individual barrister will deal with privately funded cases differently and enquiries should be made directly of the individuals for an estimate of the costs involved in any individual case.