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6.2.19 Payment of Legal Fees

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Criteria for Payment of Legal Fees


1. Introduction

When carers apply to Court to become adopters, to become Special Guardians or to take out a CHild Arrangements Order there will be legal costs associated with this process.

The Local Authority can, where it thinks it is appropriate, assist with legal costs, including Court fees for Adoption (Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005) and for the making of a Special Guardianship Order or any application to vary or discharge such an order; an application for an order under section 8 of the Children Act 1989; or an order for financial provision to be made to or for the benefit of the child (Special Guardianship Regulations 2005).

According to the regulation, when considering assistance with legal costs, there can be no consideration of the financial means of the carers when it relates to a previously Looked After child, or an agency Adopted Child.


2. Criteria for Payment of Legal Fees

Potential adopters, Special Guardians and people applying for Child Arrangements Orders must meet the criteria for financial support, before there can be any consideration for paying legal fees (see Financial Support for Special Guardianship and Child Arrangements Orders Procedure). In addition the financial support plan must have been agreed by the Head of Specialist Services for Children’s Specialist Services.

Where there has been agreement to pay the legal fees associated with the application for an Adoption, Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order, the Local Authority will pay the following:

  • Court fees associated with the application;
  • The fees of solicitors representing the potential adopters, Special Guardians and people applying for Child Arrangements Orders for making the application for the Order;
  • Legal fees for Special Guardians where an application has been made for varying or discharge of an Order, application for an order under section 8 of the Children Act 1989; or where an order for financial provision is to be made to or for the benefit of the child.

In all cases the following will apply:

  • Potential adopters, Special Guardians and people applying for Child Arrangements Orders must appoint a solicitor from the Law Society Children’s Panel;
  • Agreement must be reached between the solicitor and Wirral Council about what legal services will be funded by the Local Authority and the respective rates and charges for the work;
  • This agreement must be in place before any legal work commences;
  • The legal fees to be paid by the Local Authority will be paid at an equivalent rate to the current public funding rate and subject to a limitation which must not be exceeded without prior authority from the Local Authority. Any variation from this rate or request to exceed the limitation will require prior agreement by the Senior Manager, Children’s Specialist Services;
  • The current public funding rate and the knowledge of the case will determine the level of service being funded;
  • Any variation from the original agreement, regarding the rate and level of service, must be referred back to the Senior Manager, Children’s Specialist Services for approval before further work commences.

Where a solicitor, from a private firm, acts outside an agreement, the council will review the suitability of the solicitor to provide legal services for such cases.

End