Important Issues to Note
Do I have to accept all cases assigned to me?
No. If you are unable to accept a particular case assigned to you for any reason, you may decline it.
What should I do when a case is assigned to me?
Generally, you should handle an assigned case the same way as you would handle your own private cases. Additionally, you should keep LAB informed of the progress of the case at least once in 3 months. You should also regularly inform the applicant on the progress of the case, as you would your own private clients.
If it is a new case (i.e. legal aid has not been granted yet), your role is to investigate the case before preparing a legal opinion on the merits of the applicant’s case for the consideration of the Legal Aid Board on whether legal aid should be granted. If there are on-going court proceedings, a provisional grant of aid (“PGA”) will normally be issued to enable you to represent the applicant to protect his/her interests until aid is granted or refused.
If it is a case in which aid has already been granted,you do not need to prepare a fresh legal opinion. Instead, a grant of aid (“GA”) will be issued and you should proceed to deal with the case.
For e-Litigation matters, you should reference the PGA/GA under party details. For non e-Litigation matters, you will need to file the PGA/GA manually. You should also file your Notice of Appointment/Change of Solicitors. The PGA/GA, as the case may be, must be served on all relevant parties to the proceedings.
Am I allowed to discharge myself from acting for an Applicant?
Under s15(2) of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, you must inform the Director of Legal Aid of the reasons you wish to discharge yourself and seek the Director’s leave. Regulation 12(7) of the Legal Aid and Advice Regulations states that you have the right to discharge yourself from acting for an applicant “for a good reason”. Please get in touch with LAB’s officers if you encounter this scenario.
Reasons for you to seek the Director’s leave to discharge yourself include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The applicant has requested you to conduct the proceedings in such a manner so as to incur an unjustifiable expense from the Legal Aid Fund;
- The applicant has unreasonably insisted on the continuance of the proceedings; and/or
- The applicant has wilfully failed to provide any information requested by you or knowingly made a false representation in furnishing information.
If there are still ongoing court proceedings after the Director of Legal Aid has approved your request to be discharged, you must apply to Court for an order declaring that you have discharged yourself and serve it on all relevant parties to proceedings, as well as LAB. You can then proceed to close your file and send us your draft bill for approval (if any).
Can I get another solicitor to act in a case assigned to me?
No. Regulation 12(9) of the Legal Aid and Advice Regulations states that no Assigned Solicitor should entrust conduct of any part of the case assigned to him to any other person.
The Assigned Solicitor’s Guide (1MB)