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Civil Legal Aid

Civil Legal Aid enables an individual, who is financially eligible, to obtain advice, assistance and representation in relation to specified civil and family proceedings.

The areas that are commonly covered by civil legal aid are:

  • Family Disputes - including marriage breakdown and disputes involving your children
  • Actions by the States of Guernsey to take your children into care
  • Claims for damages in respect of a personal injury or medical negligence
  • In exceptional circumstances, the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal Hearings  
  • Mental Health Tribunal Appeals

What is the Green Form Scheme?

This is a scheme that allows people of limited means to get advice and assistance from an Advocate. The Advocate conducts a simple means test. If you are within limits you can either get free services from an Advocate up to a maximum value, at present, of £334 (2 hours) or you may be required to pay part of the costs. Your Advocate will collect any contribution you are assessed to pay, from you. 

An important part of the Green Form Scheme is to allow you to apply for a Legal Aid Certificate. An Advocate must provide a professional opinion to show that you come within certain guidelines. 

What is a Legal Aid Certificate and how do I apply for it? 

A Legal Aid Certificate means that the States of Guernsey will pay for some or all of the costs of an Advocate representing you for matters set out on the Certificate. 

To obtain it, the Administrator of the Guernsey Legal Aid Service must receive from an Advocate a professional opinion as to whether you should receive legal aid or not.

The Administrator looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the matter for which you are requesting Legal Aid to decide whether it would be reasonable in all of the circumstances for you to receive public funding for your case. The Advocate you have consulted will write an opinion for the Administrator based on the legal position and what you have told them about the matter. The Administrator will assess your application against a set of criteria which have been approved by the States. 

Legal Aid does not exist to place legally aided persons in any better position than privately paying clients. At its simplest, the Administrator will be asking: - "Would a person of average means be advised to pursue or defend this matter if they were paying the full legal costs themselves?" 

For further information on the legal merits criteria see Circular 2 The Civil Legal Aid Scheme Scope and Legal Merits and Guide to Probable Cause and Reasonableness.

You must also complete a Form 1F which is a statement of your financial means and those of your partner. You must also provide evidence of all your and your partner's income, capital, housing costs and any maintenance either of you pay. You can obtain copies of the Form and its Guide Notes from most Advocates, or the offices of the Guernsey Legal Aid Service. When you have completed it, you must send it either to the Administrator directly or via your Advocate. It is important that you send all your financial information to the Administrator as soon as possible; otherwise there may be a delay in considering your application. 

If the Administrator considers that you should receive legal aid, you will be sent an offer of legal aid. The Certificate will be sent to your Advocate. 

Will I have to repay the cost of any Legal Aid I receive? 

You may have to contribute to some of the costs of your Legal Aid (either 20%,40%,60% or 80%) if you are financially assessed to be on a contribution. Your Advocate will collect any contribution from you directly.

In some cases you will be required to repay all or part of the costs of your Legal Aid. These are referred to as recovery and/or preservation. A recovery can be made against any assets you receive or secure through the assistance provided by the Advocate under the Legal Aid certificate and any "Green Form". Preservation is when you preserve an asset that was either in your name already or joint names. For example, if you are awarded any sum of money in matrimonial proceedings or compensation for a personal injury you have suffered, you will have to repay the full costs of your Legal Aid from the money you have received at the end of the case. Your Advocate will be able to advise you about this. 

If in matrimonial proceedings you are awarded full or part ownership of the house that you and your ex-spouse own, then you will have to repay your Legal Aid costs from the value of that house. Full repayment may be required immediately or may be deferred and a bond may be taken out by the Legal Aid Administrator on the house at your expense. The purpose of the bond is to ensure that when the house is sold the Administrator will be automatically repaid from the proceeds of the sale. This works in the same way as when any mortgage is repaid when a house is sold. 

If the Administrator exceptionally agrees to defer the repayment in full of your costs to the Guernsey Legal Aid Service, then you will be expected to come to an arrangement to start paying off the costs by way of manageable regular payments. 

For further information and examples of recover and preserve situations, please see Guide to Repaying your Legal Aid.

You may also be required to pay interest on money that you owe to the Guernsey Legal Aid Service. Please see Circular 5: Interest Payable under the Legal Aid Schemes.


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