Legal Services Payment Orders
What is a Legal Services Payment Order?
A Legal Services Payment Order (LSPO) is an order whereby one party is ordered to pay to the other party a sum of money to enable them to obtain legal services. For example, a working husband may be ordered to pay his non-working wife a sum of money to help her obtain representation from a solicitor that she could otherwise not afford.
When were these orders introduced?
These orders can be made under Section 22 ZA and ZB of the Matrimonial Clauses Act 1973. The power to make such an order was introduced on 1 April 2013 following the passing of The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
Why are LSPO’s made within proceedings?
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 saw the withdrawal of public funding for most private family law proceedings i.e. applications of for financial remedy orders and/or child arrangements orders. This left many parties, whether applicant or respondent, without the ability to obtain legal services and led to an increase in litigants in person, and unrepresented parties.
What to consider before applying for a LSPO?
It is up to the discretion of the court as to whether or not a LSPO is made within proceedings. The factors to be considered by the court in determining an application are found in section s22ZB(1):
- Income, earning capacity (including any increase in earning capacity which it would be reasonable to expect the person to take steps to acquire) property and other financial resources which each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- Financial needs obligations and responsibilities which each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The subject matter of the proceedings, including the matters in issue in them
- Whether the respondent is legally represented in the proceedings
- Any steps taken by the applicant to avoid all or part of the proceedings, whether by proposing or considering mediation or otherwise
- The applicant’s conduct in relation to the proceedings
- Any amount owed by the applicant by the respondent in respect of the costs of proceedings or other proceedings to which they are or were both parties
- The effect of the order (or its variation) on the respondent, and in particular, whether the order would be likely to cause undue hardship to the respondent or prevent the respondent from obtaining legal services for the purposes of the proceedings.
In order to obtain an order, the court must be satisfied that:
- Without the amount, the applicant would not reasonably be able to obtain appropriate legal services for the purposes of the proceedings or any part of the proceedings;
- The applicant is not reasonably able to secure a loan to pay for the services i.e. bank borrowing/credit cards etc;
- The applicant is unlikely to be able to obtain the services by granting a charge over any assets recovered in the proceedings i.e. securing a debt on the matrimonial home or other properties.
How to make an application:
When making an application, the applicant has to complete an application form and file a supporting statement setting out, in detail, there reasons for seeking the order and evidence of their inability to obtain alternative funding.
If you require any further advice on the making of these orders, or any family related issues arising from a divorce or separation, please call us on 01442 872311 and ask to speak to a member of the family team.