Legal Aid

What is legal aid?

Legal aid helps with the costs of legal advice for people who can’t afford it.If you need help with the costs of legal advice, you can apply for legal aid. Whether you will receive it will depend upon :

  • the type of legal problem you have;
  • your income (how much you earn) and how much capital (money, property, belongings) you have;
  • whether there is a reasonable chance of winning your case and whether it is worth the time and money needed to win.

About legal aid

The government provides funding for legal aid to help people:

  • protect their basic rights and get a fair hearing ;
  • access the court process to sort out disputes ;
  • solve problems that contribute to social exclusion.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) runs the legal aid scheme in England and Wales. Their work is overseen by the Ministry of Justice and the annual legal budget is set by the Treasury.

The LSC looks after legal aid in England and Wales. The Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission run the system in those countries.

Who can get legal aid?

Legal aid is available for both criminal and civil matters.

In criminal cases to apply for legal aid you must fill in an ‘Application for Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings’ form which your solicitor will give you. If you do not fill in this form, you will not get legal aid. When you visit your solicitor, you should take evidence of your income with you.

If possible you must apply for legal aid before you attend court.

Am I eligible?

In Civil Cases

When assessing an individual’s eligibility to receive legal aid for civil matters the following will be used to decide eligibility:

  • money left after your living expenses (your disposable income)
  • money, investments or property you own and could use or sell to pay for legal help (your disposable capital)

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For more information on:

  • In Criminal Cases