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Legal Help and Help at Court

This content applies to England & Wales

Work that can be done under Legal Help and Help at Court.

When considering which form of legal aid service a client should apply for, Legal Help and Help at Court should always be considered before an application for Legal Representation (see the Legal Representation page for more information on what work this covers) is made. As a rule, an application for Legal Representation may be refused if it appears premature or if it appears more appropriate for the client to be assisted by some other level of service.

Legal Help

Under Legal Help a legal aid adviser, who can be a solicitor or an adviser working for an organisation with a legal aid contract or for the Civil Legal Advice (CLA) Gateway, can assist financially eligible clients by:

  • diagnosing the problem
  • providing advice, both written and oral
  • drafting letters
  • advising on small claims proceedings
  • obtaining information from third parties
  • negotiating with third parties
  • getting medical or other specialist reports
  • preparing a written case for a tribunal.

A solicitor will also able to take full instructions from the client and submit an application for Legal Representation on her/his behalf when appropriate.

Help at court

Help at Court allows the client to be given assistance in relation to a particular court hearing. It is a form of service which may be available if a client does not have a legal defence to a case, but needs some help to present issues to the court. The legal aid adviser, who can be a solicitor or an adviser  working for an organisation with a legal aid contract in the relevant area of law, can speak on the client’s behalf, but does not formally act as a representative in the proceedings and will not be on the court records as acting for the client. Examples of where an adviser would be able to provide Help at Court to a client include:

  • in possession proceedings of the client's home where the rent arrears are not in dispute but it is unlikely that an immediate order for possession would be made and the only issue appears to be the terms on which a suspended or postponed order would be made
  • in possession proceedings of the client's home on the grounds of rent arrears where the claim for possession is not disputed but there is a dispute over the amount owed
  • in an application to suspend, or further suspend, a warrant for possession of the client's home
  • in an application to adjourn a court hearing.

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