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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12071
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I took out legal aid in the year 2012 to pay for my divorce,

Customer Question

I took out legal aid in the year 2012 to pay for my divorce, the marriage being an unhappy one where I had to bare with a man who was selling drugs for a living and always high.
However when I filled in the application form for legal aid I did not declare an asset which was a property worth £60000 and had a rental income of £4000 annually. I also claimed housing benefit and working tax credit and child tax credit for my one child. I was working 16 hours per week self-employed and that was my sole income since the rental income was not received by myself but rather another person. So really the only income I relied on to exist was the 16 hours I worked and not the rental income which accrued to someone else. So I did not or do not still own any asset not even my home which I rent at this time, however the procurator fiscal has decided to instigate proceedings against me with CID requiring me to attend an interview.
Will the investigation be focused just on the legal aid claim?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Scots Law
Expert:  JGM replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
It's more likely to be a benefit fraud prosecution rather than legal aid. What have they told you so far?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

All correspondence has been from Legal Aid itself. On the original application form I had told them I was self-employed working 16 hours per week plus how much I received in terms of working tax credit and that I had made a housing benefit application for help but that decision was still pending for it.

Legal Aid have demanded the money back which my brother has paid back in full. Yet they have persisted in wanting CID to interview me. Other than that they have not told me anything else.

Expert:  JGM replied 3 years ago.
So the bit that you missed out was the flat and the rent. Why did you do that?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It was actually a commercial property and I was on diazepam for depression and mental anxiety and did not think it materially mattered because I did not have much in the way of anything having left him and didn't have the money to finance a divorce plus legal custody battle for my child so I quickly filled in the form without reflecting on everything. It was a silly mistake rather than a deliberate act of fraud. I live on rented accommodation and have not claimed any help for the last 16 months.

Expert:  JGM replied 3 years ago.
You ve technically broken the law but you can explain the state you were in, you've repaid what you shouldn't have got and there's no loss to the state. I'm not sure that a prosecution would be in the public interest. If they do prosecute, however, I would envisage a lenient disposal.
Your initial question was whether this investigation would just relate to the legal aid issue. As I understand it, that is the only issue?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So in your opinion this investigation with the CID involved which is preplexing be focused solely on the legal aid aspect of the claim?

And what kind of punishment could I expect?

Expert:  JGM replied 3 years ago.
If there's no other incorrect claim, as you've said, it will only be the SLAB issue.
Assuming no loss to the state and they accept it as a mistake, I wouldn't expect a prosecution at all.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.