Funding Your Case

At Eric Robinson Solicitors we know how important it is that you understand exactly what your case is going to cost.

Legal Aid

We will always investigate whether or not legal aid is available to you and, if it is,we will help you apply for it.  If you are not eligible for Legal Aid, we will give you a clear cost estimate before we start work, and we will usually agree a fixed fee.

Any advice we give you at the police station is generally free, irrespective of your income.

Magistrates’ Court

If you are charged with an offence, you could apply to the Magistrates’ Court for Legal Aid. You may need to give details of your means (how much money you earn and, depending on the type of case, you may need to provide documents such as wage slips and bank statements to support your application.  Aside from the financial side of things, there is a statutory merits test to pass before Legal Aid can be granted. This looks at criteria including the likelihood of you going to prison if you are convicted.

If your case passes the merits test, then finances will be considered. There is no sliding scale of contribution in the Magistrates’ Court – you are  either financially eligible for Legal Aid or not.  If you are not financially eligible it may, in some circumstances, be appropriate for you to make a special application as a “hardship” case, but otherwise, we will only then be able to act for you on a private basis which means that you pay our fees directly.

Talk to us about agreeing a fee. Fixed fees for the whole case can be a great way of knowing exactly where you are, financially. We may even be able to accept payment by reasonable instalments, although payment in full is likely to be required before the trial or sentence hearing.  We accept payments by card.

Youth Court

Defendants who are aged 17 or under who appear in the Youth Court and apply for legal aid  only have to pass the merits test; they are not subject to a means test at all.

Crown Court

If your case goes to the Crown Court for trial, you will automatically qualify for legal aid once you have completed an application form. After you have been means tested, you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence. This could be from income you earn while the case is on-going and/or from your capital, if you are convicted.  You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets.  If you do not do so, your payments could be increased which would result in you paying more towards your defence costs.

You will not have to pay towards the cost of your case if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive income support, income based jobseekers allowance, guarantee state pension credit or income-related employment and support allowance.  You may have to pay towards the costs if your monthly disposable income is above a certain level, in which event you will receive a contribution order from the Court and will have to make the payments set out in that order.

You must tell the Court about any changes to your financial circumstances during your case because these may affect the amount you have to pay towards your defence costs.  If you do not think you can afford to pay or you think a mistake has been made, you can ask for a review of the amount the Court has told you to pay.  At the end of the case, if you are found not guilty, then any payments you have made will be refunded with interest.   If you paid late or not at all and action was taken against you, the costs of that action will be deducted from the refund.  If you are found guilty, you may have to paytowards your defence costs from any capital assets you may have.

Court of Appeal or Supreme Court

If your case proceeds to the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court then an application for legal aid will be made as part of the application for permission to appeal.

Private Funding

You always have the option of choosing to pay us privately for the work that we do.  You may not be eligible for Legal Aid, or decide not to make an application. It may be that someone else is prepared to pay your legal costs.

We usually agree fixed fees before we start work and this gives clients a very clear picture of what their overall liability to us will be, up to a particular stage in the case or its conclusion. We recognise, however, that this method of charging is not for everyone, and that some clients prefer to pay by the hour for our work. We will give you a cost estimate, which will be regularly updated as the case progresses and we get a clearer picture of the work that will be needed.

If you have instructed us on a private paying basis, you will be required to pay money on account of costs at regular intervals. That applies whether you have agreed a fixed fee with us or not. We will tell you how much your initial payment will be, and the amounts to pay,  at intervals throughout the life of the case. If these payments are not made then we will not be able to continue representing you.

We would be very happy to talk you through the likely cost of your case in terms of our fees and additional expenses. Please contact a member of our Criminal Law team to find out more about any aspect of costs and funding.

Defence Costs Orders

If you are acquitted at trial, or if the prosecution offers no evidence against you, or the case is otherwise discontinued, then you may be entitled to a Defence Costs Order.  We will be able to apply for this on your behalf in appropriate circumstances.  This Order enables you to  claim back part of the money you have paid us in costs.  How much you can recover is fixed by regulation and isnot negotiable, so you are only likely to be able to get back a proportion of your costs from Central Funds.

If proceedings commenced after 1st October 2012, the amounts recoverable will be limited to legal aid rates only.  This means that you will not, in all likelihood, receive back all of the costs you have paid to the firm for representation and there could be a significant shortfall as against the costs you will have been required to pay to us.

Also be aware that for proceedings which commenced after 1st October 2012, a Defendant’s Costs Order can only be made in relation to work done and representation in the Magistrates’ Court, or in the Crown Court in relation to a conviction or sentence of the Magistrates’ Court.  It is no longer possible to obtain a Defendant’s Costs Order in relation to Crown Court proceedings on indictment.  The cost of representation before the Crown Court in those circumstances will have to be borne by you and you alone, even if you are found not guilty or the case is otherwise not proceeded with.

Contact us

If you have any concerns about costs or funding, or to find out more, please contact any member of our dedicated team.