Legal Aid: Am I Eligible?

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To get legal aid, you usually need to show you cannot afford to pay for legal costs and that your problem is serious. You will usually have to give details and evidence of your income, benefits, savings and property, and those of your partner. Free legal advice uk

Whether you qualify for legal aid will depend on:

  • the type of case you are involved in: Civil /Criminal

and

  • Your current financial circumstances

Let’s liik at the different kinds of legal problems and the legal aid options available:

Civil (Non-Criminal) Cases

Civil cases include things like debt, family issues or housing problems. To qualify for legal aid, you will usually need to show you cannot afford to pay for legal costs yourself. Your problem must be considered serious.

When applying for legal aid, you’ll usually have to give details and evidence of your income, benefits, savings and any property you own. Your partner’s assets will also be taken into account. If you’re under 18, you may need to give information about your parents’ or guardians’ income.

Your financial situation will not be taken into account for cases concerning:

  • mental health tribunals
  • children in care
  • child abduction

You may also have to provide evidence about your problem. For example, in a divorce case you might provide a court order or GP letter showing that you or your child have been a victim of abuse.

Check on the GOV.UK website if you qualify for legal aid to get help with a civil case.

Other Legal Costs

Legal aid might not cover all the costs of your case. You may have to:

  • Pay some of the costs upfront
  • Pay back some of the cost if you win money or property from your case.

If this is the case, the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will make a charge or claim (known as the ‘statutory charge’) on any money or property you win. If this is your home, payments can be deferred and the debt placed as a charge on your home (similar to a mortgage). Your free legal advice UK adviser will explain how this works.

REmember, this is for civil cases only. For Criminal cases, see below.

We can only guide you as to whether or not you might get legal aid. You will not get a final decision until you speak to an official adviser. For Free legal advice UK See HERE

The Means Tests 

Where civil legal aid is means tested, the applicant (and their partner’s) resources are considered. The partners resources are not considered when they are the opposing party. 

Gross Income Test 

This test is an upper threshold, above which an applicant will not be financially eligible for civil legal aid. Where an applicant has a gross monthly income over £2,657 they will not be eligible. 

An applicant who is in receipt, directly or indirectly, of qualifying benefits automatically satisfies the gross income test. This is called ‘passporting’. 

Disposable Income And Disposable Capital Tests 

If an applicant satisfies the gross income test, account is then taken of the applicant’s disposable income and disposable capital. If an applicant’s disposable income or disposable capital are above the relevant limits, they will not be eligible for civil legal aid. 

An applicant who is in receipt, directly or indirectly, of qualifying benefits automatically satisfies the disposable income test. They must, however, satisfy the disposable capital test. An applicant who is in receipt of other benefits may have those benefits disregarded. 

Subject to exceptions, an applicant will be eligible for civil legal aid where monthly disposable income does not exceed £733 and disposable capital does not exceed £8,000. 

Exemptions

Where the applicant is seeking legal representation in respect of certain immigration matters before the First-tier Tribunal or the Upper Tribuna, an applicant will be eligible for civil legal aid where their disposable monthly income does not exceed £733 and their disposable capital does not exceed £3,000. 

Eligibility limits may be waived completely in certain circumstances. For example, in certain proceedings relating to domestic violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Therefore an individual applying for legal aid for such cases may still receive legal aid even if their income or capital exceeds the eligibility limits described above. 

Criminal cases

There are a number of different forms of criminal legal aid:  

  • advice and assistance for individuals in custody. 
  • advice and assistance for criminal proceedings
  • representation for criminal proceedings

You will always have the right to free legal advice if you’re questioned at a police station. This is non-means tested. You do not have to speak with anyone until you have consulted with a solicitor. This, however, is a choice for you to make.

You will automatically get legal aid for representation in court if you are under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

Free Legal advice UK and assistance for criminal proceedings is subject to a merits and means test. 

Merits Test 

Thought must be given to the interests of justice. The “Interests of justice” is not defined, but is deemed to have been passed by any defendant facing a custodial sentence. It will be automatically passed by a defendant in the Crown Court or a Higher Court venue. 

Means Test 

Where criminal legal aid is means tested, the means test looks at both the applicant’s income and capital. The resources of the partner will be included in the calculation. However, the partners resources are not considered if they are the opposing party. 

The applicant must pass both the income and the capital eligibility test. An individual will be eligible for assistance where the matter relates to 

  • the individual’s discipline in a prison or young offender institution, or 
  • in relation to proceedings before the Parole Board, and 
  • where the individual’s disposable income does not exceed £209 and disposable capital does not exceed £3,000. 

In other cases, an individual is eligible for free legal advice UK and assistance if 

  • the individual’s disposable income does not exceed £99 and 
  • disposable capital does not exceed £1,000. 

An applicant who is in receipt of qualifying benefits will automatically be passported and deemed eligible for legal aid. An applicant who is in receipt of other benefits may have those benefits disregarded for the purposes of the financial eligibility calculation. Contributions There are no contributions for this type of legal aid.

Free Legal Advice UK

If you cannot get legal aid, you may be able to get free advice from:

You can also contact one of our lawyers that are on hand right now to help you with your query.

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