North Lanarkshire Community Legal Service
The North Lanarkshire Community Legal Service (NLCLS), funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, works in partnership with Motherwell and Wishaw CAB and Lanarkshire Community Law Centre (Airdrie CAB project).
NLCLS aims to provide legal and debt advice throughout North Lanarkshire to those facing homelessness. The Project comprises of 5 services which together ensure not only the threat of homelessness is removed but also that the root causes can be addressed.
NLCLS Referral Service
The NLCLS Project Coordinator performs a signposting role and acts as a central point of contact: identifying potential client service needs and assessing where these needs can be best met. This may be within or outside the umbrella of the project. The Referral Officer then facilitates and assists clients in attaining the required services.
Last year our referral service helped 506 people, helping clients tackle the threat of eviction and homelessness as well as many other housing related issues.
NLCLS Debt Advice Service
NLCLS Airdrie Debt Advisers provide specialist debt advice, dealing with matters such as income maximisation and a range of debt options e.g. bankruptcy, DAS and voluntary repayment arrangements to service users from across the community. The assistance offered includes negotiations with mortgage lenders and landlords in order to prevent the escalation of priority debts to legal action that could result in homelessness.
Many clients find themselves in difficulty due to benefit restrictions, low incomes, job losses and family breakdown. We work to increase incomes where possible, and negotiate with creditors to agree a suitable debt solution for the clients, for instance, repayment plans, Debt Arrangement Scheme, Trust Deed or Bankruptcy.
NLCLS In Court Advice Service
Advice wherever you need it - Even court
Established in 2003, the In-Court Advice Service (ICAS) at Airdrie Sheriff Court has been of service to the community for over 11 years, providing invaluable help to people involved in civil court actions. It was incorporated into the North Lanarkshire Community Legal Service project on 1st October, 2012. Our ICAS Adviser provides an emergency duty service on civil court days. The priority workload of the ICAS adviser is assisting people who are facing homelessness through court proceedings for rent or mortgage arrears.
NLCLS Simplified Procedure Service
Our NLCLS Simplified Procedure Adviser provides specialist advice and assistance to those pursuing and defending simplified procedure claims in the Sheriff Court. We deal with numerous cases each year on a number on ranging matters.
The NLCLS Solicitor provides invaluable help to individuals facing homelessness: including legal representation for people facing eviction or mortgage repossession. The service also provides second tier advice to advisers whose clients have civil legal issues which could result in homelessness.
NLCLS are able to: assess eligibility to Legal Aid, refer you to our solicitor, provide full legal advice and representation, offer additional debt advice, discuss and help you plan debt solutions and negotiate with creditors.
How we helped Simon
Client names have been changed to protect their identity.
Simon presented to the In-Court Advice Service (ICAS) seeking assistance to avoid eviction. Simon had multiple debts including over £2000 in rent arrears. Simon suffered from mental health issues and had fallen into arrears after he lost his job. Simon was not present or represented in court when decree for his eviction was granted because he had been working away from home, having not long started a new job. He was keen to stay in his home and arrange to make payment of the arrears, but he was not sure what to do. Simon had already been told to vacate his property within 14 days.
We completed an income and expenditure form with Simon and, factoring in his new weekly wage and existing labilities, worked out how much he could afford to pay towards his arrears. Simon agreed that the amount identified would be affordable.
We assisted Simon to recall the decree of eviction and advised him of the process to serve this upon his landlord. Simon returned to ICAS on the day of his hearing and we appeared on his behalf before the sheriff. We successfully requested the Sheriff continue the case to allow Simon to be referred for specialist legal and debt advice. The client’s case was continued four weeks to allow this.
Outcome: Simon was able to access specialist legal and debt advice to achieve a long term sustainable solution allowing him to remain in his home and avoid eviction.
ICAS is based at Airdrie Sheriff Court and can be reached on 01236 766712.