What Is A Legal Aid Services Payment Order?

By Claudia Price - 14th August 2020

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A Legal Aid Services Payment Order was introduced under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, when public funding within financial remedy applications ceased, save for domestic violence or child abuse cases.

The introduction of LASPO’s came about within Sears Tooth (A Firm) v Payne Hicks Beach (A Firm [1997] 2FLR 116 whereby it was identified that some spouses require assistance in order to pursue their rights against their spouse, who are in a much better financial position.

An ‘LASPO’ is a Court Order whereby one spouse is ordered to pay to the other a sum of money to enable them to continue to discharge their legal fees. The payment can only be used to discharge legal fees, and any funds that remain at the conclusion of matters must be returned to the payer.

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The case of Rubin –v- Rubin 2014 EWHC 6611 [FAM] provides guidance to the Court upon determining if the Applicant is able to obtain funding from another source. The Court would take into account a range of factors upon receiving the Applicant’s application, such as:

  • Financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of both parties;
    The income, financial resources and earning capacity of both parties;
    If the paying party is/intends to be legally represented;
    The Applicant’s conduct in relation to ongoing litigation;
    Whether providing such funds would cause any undue hardship to the Respondent’s financial

The Applicant would have to show the reasonable steps they have taken to obtain alternative funding, which should be detailed within their application and statement:

  • The Applicant would have to prove that without financial assistance, they would be unable to obtain legal representation going forward, and that such would prejudice their position;
    Evidence of refusal is required from at least 2 commercial lenders;
    If a litigation loan is offered at a high interest rate, it would be unreasonable to expect the Applicant to accept the loan, unless the Respondent would provide an undertaking to meet the interest accrued;
    Evidence that the Applicant’s solicitors would not be prepared to enter into a ‘Sears Tooth Agreement’.

The Court would have to be satisfied that the Applicant clearly does not have the financial resources to meet their legal expenses whereas the Respondent has the means to assist. Obtaining an ‘LASPO’

Order can be fairly complex, therefore if this is something that could assist you, feel free to give us a call and one of our friendly family law solicitors will be able to assist.

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