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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 11: Qualifying for civil legal aid

112.Section 11 makes provision about how the Director must determine whether an individual qualifies for civil legal services.

113.Subsection (1) provides that in determining whether an individual qualifies for civil legal services, the Director must apply the provisions about means testing (section 21) and the merits criteria set out in regulations prepared by the Lord Chancellor.

114.Subsection (2) provides that when setting the criteria, the Lord Chancellor must consider the circumstances in which it is appropriate to make civil legal services available. It also provides that, in setting the criteria, the Lord Chancellor must in particular consider the extent to which they ought to reflect the factors set out in subsection (3). The factors in subsection (3) are similar to the factors that the LSC is currently required to consider when setting the Funding Code criteria under section 8(2) of the Access to Justice Act 1999.

115.Subsection (4) provides that if more than one type of service is available for an individual, then the Lord Chancellor, in setting the criteria, must aim to ensure that the individual qualifies for the most appropriate service in all the circumstances (having regard to the criteria).

116.Subsection (5) requires the regulations to reflect the principle that, in many disputes, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution are more appropriate than court proceedings.

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