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Finding a Solicitor
In the first instance, establish whether you actually need a solicitor by booking an appointment with an ARC Adviser. If you are certain that a solicitor is necessary in your particular situation, choose one experienced in the appropriate area of law. You can find details of solicitors on the Law Society website at: www.solicitors-online.com, or go to the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk.
Costs of legal help
Remember that only a solicitor or organisation with a Legal Services Commission (LSC) contract can provide publicly-funded legal help. LSC-contracted solicitors will need details and evidence of your income to enable them to calculate whether you are eligible for legal aid. Legal aid budgets have been drastically reduced in recent years, resulting in very limited free legal representation being currently available.
Help in court
If you are at a police station, or have been charged with an offence for which you can be sent to prison, you can obtain free legal advice under the duty solicitors’ scheme. This does not depend on your financial circumstances. In England and Wales, your request will be passed to the Defence Solicitor Call Centre. Alternatively, you can choose your own solicitor and won't have to pay for advice if they have a contract with the Criminal Defence Service (CDS). The Call Centre will contact your solicitor for you.
We understand that the Law Society’s Accident Line (FREEPHONE: 0800 19 29 39) are a reliable point of contact in the event that you wish to pursue a personal injury compensation claim. They will put you in touch with a specialist local solicitor. Alternatively, you can use their postcode search (www.accidentlinedirect.co.uk) to find your local specialist solicitor and contact them directly. There is usually a free initial interview to determine whether you should proceed any further.
Cases that are allocated to the Small Claims Track in the local County Court are claims that are below £5000 in value. While going to court may sometimes be the only practical option available, please remember that there is no guarantee that judgment will be granted in your favour. You must always try and settle a claim before taking court action as the court may penalise you for not attempting to resolve it with the other party first. So, for example, if a laptop does not work, please do not file a small claim immediately for compensation - you must first make written contact with the trader that sold you the laptop to try to resolve the issue and only use the court if you cannot get the problem solved by negotiation.