Issues to take note when handling assigned cases
1. Do I have to accept all cases assigned to me?
We will obtain your consent before assigning a particular case to you. One of our staff members will call you in advance to ask whether you are able to accept a case. If you are unable to accept the case for any reason, you may decline it.
2. When is a case assigned to me and what should I do?
There are generally two stages at which we will assign a case to you:
- After an application for legal aid has been received, in which case your role is to investigate the case before preparing a legal opinion on the merits of the applicant’s case for the consideration of the Legal Aid Board as to whether legal aid should be granted. If aid is granted, you will then proceed to represent the applicant in Court proceedings;
- In other situations, our legal officer would have submitted a legal opinion to the Board which has approved the granting of legal aid, but new facts arise subsequently which makes it necessary or practical to assign the case to you. When you receive the case in these circumstances, you do not need to prepare a fresh legal opinion, and you may proceed to represent the applicant in the Court proceedings. These situations may arise when both the plaintiff and defendant for a case have applied for legal aid, in which case there is a conflict of interest for LAB in acting for both of them.
3. What is my role after legal aid is granted?
If legal aid is granted, the Grant of Aid will be sent to you. You will have to file this in Court as well as serve it on all relevant parties to the proceedings.
You should keep LAB informed of the progress of the case at least once in 3 months. You should also keep the applicant informed of the progress of the case periodically.
4. When can I discharge myself from acting for the applicant?
Under R12(7) of the Legal Aid Regulations, you have the right to discharge yourself from acting for the applicant for a good reason. In particular, you may seek the Director's leave to discharge yourself for the following reasons:
- that the applicant has required you to conduct the proceedings in such a manner so as to incur an unjustifiable expense to the Legal Aid Fund;
- that he has unreasonably insisted on the continuance of the proceedings;
- that he has wilfully failed to provide any information requested by you; or
- that he, in furnishing information, has knowingly made a false representation.
In certain circumstances, the Director of Legal Aid may also cancel legal aid under Rule 8 of the Regulations.
After you have discharged yourself from acting for the applicant, or if the Director has decided to cancel legal aid, you should return all court documents and any other documents relating to the case together with your bill of costs.
5. Must I tax my Solicitor & Client bill?
There is no need to tax your bill if it is less than S$1,000 (inclusive of disbursements). Just send us your bill and payment will be made to you once the Director of Legal Aid has approved it.
However if your bill exceeds S$1,000, taxation is required. After taxation, you will receive 50 per cent of the amount allowed on account of solicitor and client costs and 100 per cent of disbursements allowed. In such a case, you should prepare a draft bill to be taxed and send it to us for approval. Once the Director has approved the draft bill, you may proceed to have it taxed. After which you should send the Registrar's Certificate to us so that we can process the payment
6. Should I give any undertaking to another solicitor ?
No. You should not give any undertakings on any matter to anyone without the express approval of the Director of Legal Aid.