It seems there isnt enough equity in the house sale to pay my legal aid bill.
I have been sent a letter from my solicitor saying I need to pay the difference?
1. I was under the impression they would take any equity I was awarded and if it was in excess of the bill I would get the difference but if it was less than the bill I wouldnt have to pay the difference?
2. I am awarded spousal maintenance which my ex is yet to pay. My solicitor is pursuing this saying this will pay off my legal aid bill. It is detailed in the court order he doesnt have to pay it until September 2015 so technically he could give me a lump sum or smaller payments at that point. Can legal aid chase this amount?
Any advice gratefully received.
You think the trauma of divorce is bad enough, then comes the raft of legal aid issues....
The Statutory Charge (the mechanism for recovering legal fees from the financial settlement) does not attach to spousal maintenance or pension orders.
The Charge does apply to the amount up to and including the amount that is deemed to have been recovered or preserved - even if this is not in cash.
For instance if your ex made a claim on your property and you defeated that claim with the benefit of public funding - the Legal Services Commission would deem that you had preserved the value of your property. You would then have to pay back your legal fees up to and including the value of the preservation.
The Charge is easier to operate when only cash is involved:-
(a) If you obtained a settlement of £10k and you costs were £6k, you would pay £6k and receive £4k.
(b) If you obtained a settlement of £10k and you costs were £10k, you would pay £10k and receive nothing
(c) If you obtained a settlement of £10k and you costs were £12k, you would pay £10k and receive nothing. You would not have to pay the balance.
Your situation may involve other assets that are deemed to have been recovered or preserved in which case there may be a deficit owed to the LSC once the equity is taken into account.
In the event that you owe money to the LSC but you have nothing with which to discharge your liability, it is possible to defer the charge against a property which seems unlikely in your situation. Alternatively, the debt recovery department will be in touch and you can negotiate terms of repayment.