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Pro bono legal advice & representation


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Having a chat with an old friend last night and I was talking to him about this website. During that conversation a question arose which had me completely lost as I believed that if you were of low means, legal aid was available.

However he informed me that that isn't entirely true. It seems that he is in an awful pickle of not being able to fund specialist legal advice and that legal aid is no longer available.

 

I find this hard to believe but he may be right, I don't know.

 

His problems are of a very complex nature regarding various benefits that he is and has claimed for in the past. There is no criminality involved, he simply does not understand the technical issues involved as well as having to prepare and submit two written submissions to the MOJ (Tribunal Service).

 

If he is right, how on earth does he obtain good quality free legal advice and representation?

 

He has tried all of the usual outlets, CAB, DIAL etc, but all have said that it is far too complicated for their volunteer staff to deal with - he needs a specialist solicitor. He has also contacted the Legal Aid Commission and was given a few names of solicitors but none of them will consider it Pro Bono.

 

He lives in the South East area of England.

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Whereabouts south east? To advise of a place we'd need more detail to location - these types of places generally cover a specific area/county.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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Hello there.

 

Is there a Community Law centre where your friend is? I've seen them mentioned for pro bono advice, also local law colleges/universities.

 

My best, HB

 

Many thanks. I spent all of yesterday searching but alas, no such centre exists. However I did find, via the County Council that they have a 'Welfare Rights Officer' but unfortunately that service is only available for those persons that are under the care of their Social Workers.

 

I also contacted at your suggestion, the local university who in fact do run a 'law clinic' but they are swamped with work already.

 

It does appear that the impoverished of this country no longer have access to quality legal advice via a means tested application.

But thanks for your help.

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Whereabouts south east? To advise of a place we'd need more detail to location - these types of places generally cover a specific area/county.

 

Many thanks. The area in question is the 'Romney Marsh' in South East Kent. Quite a large area that stretches to East Sussex in the west to the towns of Ashford and Folkestone in the north and east respectively.

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Try this site:

 

 

Many thanks.

Great link thanks, but there is no such centre in the South East, plenty in London and in the North of England.

 

I eventually found a site through that link called 'Advice Now' which suggests that because of the cuts to Legal Aid, most people will now have to go it alone with help maybe from friends and/or family.

 

I think I have now scraped the bottom of the barrel and have to accept that there is no longer any help in this area, that is unless you have the funds to pay for a solicitor.

 

To say the least I am ashamed that I am living in a country that is nearer to the 1950's than it is to the 21st century and thankful that my working life has come to an end.

 

Thankyou to everyone that has helped

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There are experienced benefits advisers on this site and we're happy to help where we can. If you give us some details of the issues, maybe we can help your friend.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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Does he have legal cover included in his house insurance? if so, might be worth giving them a call to see if they can provide a solicitor for him

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My advice is based on my opinion and experience only. It is not to be taken as legal advice - if you are unsure you should seek professional help.

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Another member of the site team has found a couple of sites that could be helpful in some cases.

 

HB

 

Many thanks HoneyB.

 

The links are excellent but as I have already discovered, Legal Aid is not available for any welfare advice or legal representation/submission preparation below the level of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court or the Upper Tribunal.

 

But thanks for your efforts.

 

I will telephone my friend this morning and ask him if it alright for me to go into his problems in more depth on here.

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Does he have legal cover included in his house insurance? if so, might be worth giving them a call to see if they can provide a solicitor for him

 

Hello, yes that was an idea I had and we checked it out. Unfortunately the cover is very limited only to what I would call compensation claims, personal liability issues and contract law.

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The facts as I have been told them.

 

My friend has always been in receipt of DLA since the early90’s. His normal rates were always ‘High Mobility, Middle Care’. In 2005 he was invited to make a renewal of his claim which he did. A doctor appointed by the state came to see him and carried out a medical in his home. Three days after this home medical he was admitted into hospital. At the time it was not expected that he would survive and spent the next 5 weeks in the High Dependency/CriticalCare Units. Slowly he recovered enough to be transferred to a side ward where he remained for the next 4 months.

 

Throughout the following 6 years he was admitted back into hospital for a few days at a time for his health to be stabilised. The times that he was not in hospital he spent in bed at home being cared for by his wife and children.

 

It was not until early 2011 that he was in any way fit enough to deal with his financial affairs. He first of all decided to ask for a review of his DLA award. He contacted the DWP who told him that he didn’t have a current award and hadn’t had one since 2005. He obtained a copy of his DLA files from the DWP and at that point realised that the renewal in 2005 had been turned down. He and his wife were adamant that they had not been told of this even though that there was a copy letter in the files sent to him in mid-2005 advising him of this.

 

He made a ‘new’ claim for DLA in 2011 and was awarded ‘HighMobility, Middle Care’ from the 16th June 2011. He then submitted a considerable amount of medical evidence dating from 2004 to 2011 to the DWP with a request that the 2005 decision is looked at again. This they did and in November 2011 he received a letter from the DWP stating the decision dated 2005 was to be changed and that an award from 2005 was made for ‘High Mobility,Middle Care’ – indefinitely.

 

Unfortunately the DWP refused to pay him any of this backdated award. They explained that as no appeal had been lodged against the2005, that decision could not be overturned but could only be superseded on the basis of new evidence that was not previously submitted.

 

This is where my friend is up to. How does he get the DWP to pay this backdated award which they have agreed is due, but not payable? He is far too late to submit an appeal against the 2005 decision. What grounds does he have when making an application to the Tribunal when he can show that he was in hospital for most of 2005 and between 2005 and 2011 he was both physically and mentally unable to deal with his affairs?

 

I would add that his wife and family have never involved themselves in the financial matters of husband/father - they wouldn’t have known that there was a problem.

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