Legal aid in extradition cases; Do I qualify?
Many of our clients ask whether there is legal aid for extradition cases. The answer is yes, there is. It is actually now called a ‘representation order’, although most people still talk about legal aid. All extradition cases begin in Westminster Magistrates’ Court and you may be eligible at this stage. You can apply with any firm of your choice, so long as they have a criminal contract.
There is a means test for legal aid for extradition cases at the Magistrates’ Court. This means that your income, your partner’s income and family circumstances will be taken into consideration. You must provide proof of your income and outgoings. The application will be made by your solicitor of choice to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) where an assessment will be made on your disposable income. You will not have to pay any fees for your extradition hearing if you are granted legal aid.
When application is refused and you are still unable to afford a lawyer, you can make a hardship application to the LAA for them to reconsider.
There is a merits test for legal aid for criminal cases. However, all extradition cases automatically pass that test.
Can I change my solicitor?
If you have been successful in obtaining legal aid for extradition with a firm of solicitors and wish to instruct another firm to represent you instead, you may face difficulties. If you want to transfer, you must make an application to the Court. You must explain the reasons why you want to transfer. Therefore, it is important that you only apply for representation with a firm you feel confident in from the start.
All appeals against extradition in the High Court qualify for legal aid. There is no means test in the High Court. This means that you will not have to provide any proof of your income and outgoings. If you instruct a firm to lodge your appeal on this basis, then you will not have to pay for the Court fees for lodging the appeal. Your solicitor will help you with the forms and all fees involved in the appeal.
Please contact us on 0207 388 1658, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss your extradition matter with us further, or to find out whether your would be eligible for legal aid for extradition matters. We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in extradition who are here to help you.
If you want to know more about extradition proceedings, read our guide to the basics here.
John Howey, Senior Solicitor