Interests of justice test
The Interests of Justice (IOJ) test determines whether an applicant is entitled to legal aid based on the merits of the case. The application is made on a CRM14 to the magistrates' court (alongside the CRM15, depending on your clients means) and court staff undertake the test.
If your client passes the IoJ test they must also pass the means test to qualify for legal aid.
In general, the more serious the charge or possible consequences of the charge for your client, the more likely that the case meets the IOJ test.
You must indicate which of the following criteria - known as the 'Widgery Criteria' - you believe applies to their case:
- It is likely that I will lose my liberty
- I have been given a sentence that is suspended or non-custodial. If I break this, the court may be able to deal with me for the original offence
- It is likely that I will lose my livelihood
- It is likely that I will suffer serious damage to my reputation
- A substantial question of law may be involved
- I may not be able to understand the court proceedings or present my own case
- I may need witnesses to be traced or interviewed on my behalf
- The proceedings may involve expert cross-examination of a prosecution witness
- It is in the interests of another person that I am represented
- Any other reasons.
Refer to the IOJ guidance for further information.
If legal aid is refused on the grounds that the case does not meet the IoJ test you or your client may take two courses of action:
- Annotate and return the original application to the court, including new information for consideration by court staff
- Write a letter to the court requesting an appeal
Any appeal will be held within 24 hours of its submission. The magistrates will decide whether or not the application will be granted on appeal.