All members of the Armed Forces have access to the Armed Forces Legal Aid Scheme to assist in the funding of advice and representation in military police interviews and military court proceedings such as Courts Martial (CM) and Summary Appeal Courts (SAC). The rules and procedures for the scheme are set out in detail in JSP 838 and are administered by a team of very helpful people at the Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority (AFCLAA) at Upavon. They are very knowledgeable and are always willing to assist with queries where they can. Call them on 01980 618008 or military 94344 followed by the extension.
Until a few years ago, service personnel received legal aid free of any contributions. However, the rules that applied in the civilian courts for some time have now been imposed in the military world as well. Therefore there are contribution levels and if your income or capital are outside these levels then you will be asked to pay a contribution to the costs. There are three criteria which determine whether you have to contribute 1) If your disposable income (together with spouse or partner) is more than £22,235. 2) If you have savings or assets of more than £3,000. 3) If the equity in your house is more than £100,000
If any of these apply, you will be assessed for a contribution. The size of the contribution depends on your financial circumstances including your outgoings and dependents. Because of that it may turn out to be very low. It is possible that you will receive a letter offering you legal aid with a frighteningly high maximum contribution. That is just the way the calculations work out and you should not panic. The cost to you will be the contribution or the lawyers bill whichever is lowest. In the case of a simple court martial the bill should not be more than £2,000 - £3,000. You should also note that if you are found not guilty then you will normally receive all your contributions back and will pay nothing. In the event that you feel that you cannot afford the contribution please contact Christopher Hill on 07725982819 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the possibility of a fixed fee agreement. We are also willing to give you initial advice free of charge at any time.