I deal finally with LABs and LAAOs handling of Mrs As case. In view of the information given by Mrs A in her application for legal aid of 26 March 1997. in order properly to assess the extent of her disposable capital LAAO needed to obtain from her details of her savings. her ability to realise the value of her share in a property that being an asset which, if realisable. would fall to be taken into account whether or not Mrsa actually realised it, and the reasons for the gift of money she had made to her son on 13 March.
They also needed to clarify Tax Depreciation information concerning her income, in order to establish whether she qualified to have some of her capital disregarded. They began their enquiries promptly in April, but did not complete them until August, and did not carry out an assessment of Mrs As financial eligibility for legal aid until a month after that. Had LAAO taken the correct action efficiently at all stages, they should have been able to complete their enquiries and carry out their assessment by no later than the end of April.
To make matters worse, when notifying Mrsa on 12 September of the outcome of the assessment.LABs area office mistook the basis on which LAAO had assessed her capital and accordingly gave the wrong reason as to why she had been found financially ineligible for legal aid. that letter also made no admission of fault by LAW in their handling of the matter, despite the fact that LEO has themselves made such an admission in a report to LABs head office on 14 August.
I have considered whether LAB should be asked to reimburse any costs incurred by Mrs A after the end of April, when she should have been notified that her application had been refused. I note the Chief Executives point that there was no guarantee that Mrs A would be found financially eligible for legal aid. I consider that, whatever expectations Mrs A may have had in the early stages of her application.