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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 11132
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I was divorced in 2002 after a protracted divorce. scottish

Customer Question

i was divorced in 2002 after a protracted divorce.
scottish legal aid board have issued a demand for £4973 which they want paid in monthly instalments of £103 .
this is demanded as clawback on the approx £30,000 made on the sale of the house etc,
this was not demanded when i received these funds and i would have just paid it in full at that time.
however i have brought up three children through primary to secondary school without a penny from their father.
i have serious and chronic health issues and have been dependant on sickness benefits.
therefore any divorce settlement has been long gone now.
am i legally bound to repay this sum of £4973 and is there a cut off period or time lapse?
can i reasonably be expected to pay this after 13 years?
all the income i have is sickness benefit and disability living allowance.
thank you for your time.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Scots Law
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I am a solicitor in Scotland.
Has ther been any contact with the legal aid board since the divorce and the receipt by you of the funds following the sale of the house? If so, what and when?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Apparently i was contacted in march 2009; a Principle Sums letter breaking down the finances of my divorce (2002) and explaining that as i had made a recovery i was liable to pay for my legal aid with that recovery amount, £4973 .
i do not remember this and i cannot find any relevant paperwork but it must be so..(please note that i am ill and have memory and cognitive difficulties ) .
I was then contacted in july 2014 and i replied asking for clarification of this demand for payment, and explaining my difficulty in paying £100+ a month, and basically pleaded for a period of grace as i was having major surgery that same month.
They replied quoting from the Principal Sums letter (as clarification) and also asked me to send in proof of sickness and hospital/doctors letters was also suggested that i call them to discuss the monthly payment..
However i was unable to send anything,or call, as i was very ill for a long time post surgery and staying at my daughters house .In any case my health records are private and confidential surely?
I have heard nothing since until this latest demand for payment received this month.
Each letter received from them contains the reminder/threat of freezing my income(sickness benefit) at source, and my bank account if i do not pay as demanded, and sending debt collectors.
thank you for your time.
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.
I will look into this for you. The legal aid regulations don't appear to deal with the issue of time bar and I will research this a little further and respond to you as soon as I can.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much.
It was my intention to call them tomorrow, they want me to set up a direct debit payment by the end of this month.
Im afraid that if i do not start paying them they can arrest my benefit or send debt collectors to my door.
im not very well just now and im really worried about this.
i appreciate your help, thank you very much..
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.
Regulation 40 of the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) Regulations 2002/494 says that the legal aid board can recover their outlay from property recovered or preserved on your behalf. So at first instance they are entitled to recover. However, in my opinion, and I can see nothing in the law that says otherwise, their claim would become time barred if a period of five years passed and there was no communication from the board to you and you have done nothing to admit the debt. So if there is a period of five years of inactivity, I think they are too late to claim if they have not raised a court action against you for recovery. I would ask your solicitor to contact them and ask the basis on which they are trying to do this after all these years. I hope that helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.
JGM and other Scots Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thank you very much . i managed to have a quick phone call with my lawyer who agreed with your advice and has further advised me to contact slab, in writing, re this period of inactivity etc..
so hopefully i will be able to resolve this. i certainly feel more confident now to contest their demand.
i have left you a well deserved 5 star rating. best regards.
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Let me know if I can help you further in the future.