Although we started out as a legal aid firm, we do an increasingly significant amount of non-legal aid and private work, mainly for individuals but also for businesses (in particular care service providers).
Mental Health and Community Care law is publicly funded by the Legal Services Commission. In order to qualify for free legal advice and assistance ('legal aid') your case needs to satisfy both a merits and a means test. The merits test requires that your case has some clear benefit to you or some other person.
The means test is more complicated. Both your income and your capital must be assessed. Your income will automatically qualify if you are in receipt of Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-based Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Guarantee Credit. You will also qualify if your disposable income does not exceed £733 per month. Your capital will qualify if your savings amount to less than £8000. If you are applying for legal aid for court proceedings then savings between £3000 and £8000 may be liable to be paid to the LAA as a contribution to your case.
The exception to the above is if you are applying to the Mental Health Tribunal as a sectioned patient or challenging a Standard Authorisation (DoLS) as someone's Relevant Person's Representative in which case you automatically qualify for assistance, irrespective of your means.