Initial changes were made in April 2013 and following a further consultation process in the summer of 2013 new guidance has been issued leading to action being taken in 2 key areas:
1. The range of cases that Legal Aid can be claimed for has been reduced:The new guidance, which was published in November 2013 and came into effect for cases registered from December 2nd last year, sets a lower level of funding for DNA testing.
2. A reduction of 20% in the fees payable to experts (e.g. Cellmark) for the same work.
- In family law Legal Aid is not available for matters that “do not justify the use of public funds”.
- Visa applications for relatives to visit/reside with relatives already resident in the UK are now excluded.
DNA – testing of sample*
£315 per test
£252 per test
DNA – preparation of report
*The guidance states that a test comprises of father and child (plus mother if required). For each additional child the limit of funding is increased by £133. If there are a number of alleged fathers, each father and child/children tested would constitute a separate test.
Cellmark will (from January 1st 2014) reduce its prices for standard DNA relationship testing to comply with the new guidance. Our new price will be £324 ex VAT.
Included in OUR price will be the following:
- All sampling kits and the cost of getting them to UK sampling locations
- Pre-paid return envelopes to send the samples to our laboratory
- The cost of testing the samples once they have been received at our laboratory
- The cost of producing and sending the final test report to the “customer”
- Our standard turn around time of 3 - 5 days
- Our FREE advice service for the duration of the case – before and after the final test report – accessible via email, FreePhone 0800 036 2522, and our web Chat service
The Government’s own impact assessment on the 20% reduction in the level of fees that can be claimed under Legal Aid highlighted several risks:
- Lower income might cause a reduction in the number of experts available
- Numbers of public law family cases will continue to rise
- Lower fees might mean experts deliver a lower quality service
Are you eligible for Legal Aid?
The Legal Aid Agency has produced a range of information to assist solicitors and individuals in establishing whether their case is eligible for Legal Aid funding and this can be accessed via the following web page - http://legal-aid-checker.justice.gov.uk/ we recommend you use this as a starting point before embarking on the complex process of applying for legal aid.
If you can’t get Legal Aid you may be able to get free advice from one of the following:
local legal advisor or solicitor – a number of firms are responding to the changes by offering fixed price services.