21 June 2012

Guidance on income contributions, liability and refunds

Following February's update on our continued work to recover unpaid legal aid contributions, we're publishing further information about

  • when the liability for the monthly contribution is created and
  • what happens if the case concludes within six months.

When do contributions start and finish?

If an applicant has to make contributions from income, this will be for the life of the case up to a maximum of 6 months.

Contributions begin once a defendant's case has been sent to the Crown Court and the liability starts from the date their financial assessment is completed or the date of the sending/committal hearing whichever is the later.

All subsequent contributions become due each month thereafter. Applicants are however given 28 days in which to make each payment.

What happens if the applicant is acquitted?

At the end of the case, if they are found not guilty, all contributions will be refunded, less any enforcement costs. Interest is paid on the contributions at a rate of 2%.

Once a defendant is acquitted, it usually takes around 3 weeks for a refund to be processed.

What happens if the applicant is convicted?

The date the liability for further income contributions ceases is the Sentence/Order date.

Applicants who are convicted of any offence in the Crown Court may also have to pay toward the cost of their defence if they have assets of £30,000 or more.

What if there are unpaid income contributions?

If an applicant is convicted and is in arrears, they remain liable to pay any unpaid contributions and where necessary collection and enforcement activity will continue. 

The means testing page on our website has a table that shows how the income contribution liability is calculated.

Further information

LSC website:

Means testing in the courts

CDS News: Income contribution arrears to be collected after cases conclude

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