Section 10 of LASPO introduced Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) for non-inquest cases that are not in scope for legal aid. It should be available if your human rights or European Union law rights would be breached if you do not get funding for a lawyer. The question is whether you could present your case effectively and without unfairness if you do not have legal aid. That could be because the case is complicated; because you are less able to deal with it alone; and/or because the case is so important to you that it is not fair for you to manage the case yourself. You will also have to show that your case is strong enough and that you are financially eligible for legal aid.

Exceptional funding may also be available for inquests where the right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights is engaged. The criteria for being granted funding in inquest cases are different. For more detail on funding for inquests see the Government’s guidance and information about inquest funding for legal aid providers: this is not something that the Public Law Project are able to advise on, as inquests do not fall within PLP’s Exceptional Funding Project. You may want to contact Inquest for advice and assistance.

The UK’s exit from the European Union (‘Brexit’) and effect of this on applications for ECF

Our supplementary note sets out the impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union (‘Brexit’) on the test for ECF, and the availability of ECF for applications, reviews, and appeals under the ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ (‘EUSS’).  Read the note in full here.

How does the Exceptional Funding scheme work?

Solicitors are unable to grant exceptional funding themselves, and all applications for ECF must be sent to the Legal Aid Agency. The Legal Aid Agency’s target time for responding to an initial application is 25 working days. The target time for responding to an urgent application is ten working days. If an application for ECF is unsuccessful, you can apply for an internal review of the refusal by submitting grounds of review and supporting documents to the Legal Aid Agency. If the refusal of funding is upheld on the internal review, the only way of bringing a further challenge is by judicial review.

If you need access to legal aid through the ECF scheme, or if you are working with someone who you believe may qualify, please see our guides for further information about how to apply:

See our ECF toolkit for setting up a clinic here.

There is some further information on applying for exceptional case funding in the Legal Aid Agency’s provider pack.

We provide ECF training in a variety of locations across the UK and may be able to offer bespoke training packages, depending on the needs of your organisation. Training opportunities are listed on our events page. If you have an enquiry about ECF training, please contact us here.

PLP also maintains a database of organisations that help make ECF applications for people who do not have a legal aid lawyer. You can access this database here. Please email if you would like to add your organisation to this database.

We are continuing to monitor experiences of the Exceptional Funding scheme and are keen to hear about your experiences, or if you are considering making a funding application. You can email, or call our main number: 0207 843 1260.