Legal Aid

Crown court means testing – capital contribution orders

PUBLISHED September 13, 2012

13 September 2012

Capital contribution orders are being issued and will be enforced if payment is not made

When clients are convicted in the Crown Court the LSC must establish whether a Capital Contribution Order should be issued.

This may also be required if the trial judge considers there are exceptional reasons why acquitted individuals should be liable to make payment.

This means any applicant who was not passported - regardless of whether they were asked to pay an income contribution or not - will have their capital and equity assessed.

This could result in clients being asked to pay towards their costs. This is also made clear on the Income Contribution Order or Contribution Notice sent to them after legal aid has been granted.

£30,000 capital allowance

The amount payable under a Capital Contribution Order is based on the final defence cost, less any payments already made. It is issued if your client has more than £30,000 in capital.

This typically includes equity in properties and all types of savings and investments, but could include other assets.

It should also be noted that the £30,000 capital allowance can be removed if your client does not comply with requests for evidence or further information.

Capital assessments are based on the:

  • amount or value of the asset at the time of the application
  • outcome of checks carried out to protect against fraud

As with income assessments the partner's share of the equity is included in these calculations - unless there is contrary interest.

Client's responsibility

It is your client's responsibility to make the payment and we would strongly suggest your client is made aware of potential liability.

Capital Contribution Orders are issued on our behalf by collection and enforcement contractor, Rossendales Ltd. The template is on our website - link below.

It normally takes around six months from the end of the case for the order to be issued as we have to allow:

  • Three months for submission of your bills
  • Eight weeks for processing and resolution of appeals

Payment timescales

Payment needs to be made within 28 days of the order.  Reasonable arrangements can be agreed with Rossendales.

If payment is not made interest will be charged at 6% - enforcement action may follow.

The costs of any action will be added to the amount clients owe.

Enforcement options

These include but are not limited to:

  • charging order secured against any property owned
  • 8% interest on charging orders 8%
  • Visit to client's home to seize goods to value of order
  • third party debt order against any money deposited in an account
  • attachment of earnings order

Money recovered will be returned to the legal aid fund.

Further information

LSC website: means testing in the courts - to download 'Capital contribution order' template

Criminal Defence Service (Contribution Orders) Regulations 2009