What you need to know about funding an inquest

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There are four main options for funding legal advice. This is the case in the lead up to an inquest and for representation at the inquest itself.

We explain each one herebriefly, but we would always advise getting in touch with one of the team so we can  find the best option for you.

1 – Legal Expenses Insurance

Some Legal Expenses Insurance policies cover the costs of specialist legal advice and representation at an inquest, at no additional cost to you.

You might have Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) as part of one of your existing insurance policies such as a home and contents insurance policy, or your bank or credit card. It is important to check all potential sources of LEI – often people do not even realise they have it!

We can help you take advantage of this cover if you have it – and we can even liaise with your insurance company on your behalf to investigate whether you have appropriate cover.

2 – Legal Aid Agency Funding – Public Funding

Funding from the Legal Aid Agency for advice and representation for Inquests is available in certain circumstances.

There are two main kinds of funding:

Legal Help

This covers ‘advice and assistance’ from a specialist inquest solicitor to help you prepare in the lead up to an inquest. This funding is means-tested, meaning that the Legal Aid Agency will assess your financial position (including your income, outgoings and capital assets) in order to determine whether you are eligible to receive funding. However, there are certain circumstances under which it is possible to apply for this means test to be waived.

Exceptional Case Funding

In certain case types funding can be granted for representation at the inquest hearing itself, with a specialist solicitor and/or barrister.

Typically this may apply in an Article 2 inquest where the state has a procedural duty to investigate the circumstances of a death, such as deaths involving the police, in prison or whilst a patient is under a mental health Section.

FAQs
What are the criteria you need to meet for legal aid to be given?

The Legal Help and the Exceptional Case Funding schemes are both merits and means tested.

Merits testing means that funding is only granted if the case warrants it. The Legal Aid Agency will consider whether there is a risk of a breach of Human Rights if funding is not granted or if there is a wider public interest in the case that makes funding necessary. Relevant law and principles in this area can be complex, so you should seek specialist advice if you think your case may apply.

Even if the merits test is passed, funding can be denied if the stringent means test is not met. The Legal Aid Agency require comprehensive financial information from applicants before they will consider the application, which can be quite a substantial job, particularly when dealing with a recent bereavement.

Funding can be denied where the family finances fall above a certain level. However, failing the means test does not necessarily mean that families have the ability to pay for legal representation (which can be costly). In these circumstances there may be other funding options available to you, for example a conditional fee agreement or a private funding arrangement.

The Legal Aid Agency can decide to waive the means requirement in circumstances where the state is involved, and under certain obligations to investigate the death or where there is a significant public interest.

Under these circumstances the family may be granted full legal aid funding at no cost or could, instead, be asked to pay a contribution towards their legal costs. The specific contribution would depend on the total likely costs of the legal representation and the family’s financial means.

How do you apply for Legal Aid?

Our specialist team will be able to guide you through the process and help collate the documents that the Legal Aid Agency require to consider the application.

We have experience in obtaining public funding in a range of inquests and will support you to prepare the strongest application for your circumstances.

3 – Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

A CFA is often referred to as a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement. This basically means that if there is a successful claim for damages following the inquest then your legal costs are largely recovered from the Defendant/s. There will be some items that you’ll have to pay for out of your compensation, for instance the cost of the insurance we need to take out on your behalf, and any success fee that we charge. However, these deductions are capped at 25% of the total damages received, so you will always receive at least 75%.

In the event your claim is not successful then you do not have to pay anything for our legal fees.

4 – Private funding

If the options listed above are unavailable for your particular case then we also offer a private funding option. We would also do our utmost to provide a fee estimate tailored to your needs, and we can also offer a fixed fee service if you would prefer the certainty of that approach.

Whatever your priorities circumstances, we will find the best funding option for you. Simply contact us to find out more.

Contact our team for advice on funding an inquest

0800 923 2080

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