The Board may establish panels of solicitors and barristers and others who are willing to provide legal aid and advice. Solicitors and barristers may be appointed to the panel subject to terms and conditions described by the Board with the consent of the Minister for Finance. A solicitor may be excluded if his conduct is such as to render him unsuitable.
The Board may, upon deciding to grant legal advice nominate a solicitor or barrister from its panel. Before doing so, it may take account of the views of the applicant. Where the applicant wishes to be provided with the services of a solicitor or barrister other than one nominated, he may make an application to the Board, and if the Board considers the person’s wishes are reasonable in the circumstances, it may consent and nominate either a solicitor or barrister as above.
Relationship with Adviser
There is a possibility of changing solicitor or barristers where the Board considers it reasonable. The Board may require the additional cost to be borne by the applicant.
The relationship of solicitor and barrister and client respectively is subject to some modification. In particular, the solicitor or barrister must provide the Board with information as may be required for the purpose of enabling the Board to discharge its functions.
A court or tribunal must make an order for costs in a matter in which a person is in receipt of legal aid in the same manner as if no party was in receipt of legal aid. An applicant for legal aid must take all steps as he may be entitled to take where he is indemnified in respect of expenses which would otherwise be incurred by him, but for receiving legal aid.
The lawyer nominated by the Board is under a similar obligation to take steps to recover costs and expenses, whether by order of court or settlement. The costs so recovered must be paid to the Board.
A person in receipt of legal aid must not agree to forego costs or meet the costs of another party or accept a settlement of the costs without the prior approval of the Board. The Board may make it a condition that the costs be paid out of property or monies received by the person under the agreement.
The Board is entitled to recover costs incurred by it in providing legal aid or advice. In default of agreement the matter is at the discretion of the court or tribunal concerned, measured by the court or taxing master whether as contentious basis or non-contentious basis.
Cost from Recovered Funds
Any damages and monies or property recovered for a person in receipt of legal aid, whether by order of court or settlement are paid into the fund subject to an appropriate charge and payable at the fund for the purpose of recovery of the costs of providing the same.
The Board shall waive rights to any money or property to the extent that the money consists of
- household contents of property which is the normal place of residence of the receipt.
- periodical lump sum maintenance figures;
- a specified part of maintenance arrears,
- employment sums.
It may waive rights in other cases where it considers it likely to create hardship for the recipient.
Measuring Board Costs
In measuring the costs incurred by the Board in connection with the provision of legal aid or advice, it shall take account of all the circumstances, including the time devoted, salary, fees and expenses of the Board and any barristers and solicitors employed, other administrative fees and expenses incurred in obtaining reports, witness expenses, and court fees.
The total costs incurred by the fund in providing legal aid and advice may be measured in the above manner or taxed by order of the court or the tribunal concerned or the taxing master (now the costs adjudicator). Where the total cost is less than the total amount paid into the fund by or in his behalf by way of contribution or by way of charge above, the balance is refunded.
Costs Against Assisted Person
Where costs are awarded to a person not in receipt of legal aid against a person who is in receipt of legal aid, the cost are to be paid by the legal aid fund other than in the below conditions. Where the successful litigant presents a bill of costs to the Board, the Board may make an ex-gratia contribution for costs if it considers appropriate,
- if it is satisfied that the proceedings were instituted by the unsuccessful litigant and the successful litigant has taken all reasonable steps to cover his costs and the unsuccessful litigant in person
- the successful litigant will suffer severe financial hardship unless an ex-gratia payment is made
- the ex-gratia payment will not exceed the amount that would be allowed if costs were taxed on a party and party basis and the case has been fully determined.