What is Legal Aid and am I Eligible?

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What is Legal Aid?

Legal aid is public funding given by the government which allows a person legal help in certain issues or cases. In criminal cases it is given to people who do not have enough money to get a lawyer, if their case is serious enough to need legal help.

Legal aid can help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or tribunal.

How do I get legal aid?

You will usually have to show that your case is eligible and that you cannot afford to pay for legal costs. The problem has to be serious. Below are examples of where you may qualify for legal aid:

  • you or your family are at risk of abuse or serious harm because of domestic violence or forced marriage.
  • you’re at risk of homelessness or losing your home
  • you’ve been accused of a crime, face prison or detention
  • you’re being discriminated against
  • you need family mediation
  • you’re adding legal arguments or bringing a case under the Human Rights Act

You will need to show that you cannot afford to pay for this help. You may have to pay some money towards the legal costs of your case or pay costs back later.

What if I have to go to Court?

You might have to pay a fee if you go to a court or tribunal in England or Wales. There is a different system of court fees in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

If you have little or no savings, and you get certain benefits or have a low income, you might be able to get money off your court or tribunal fees.

Court and tribunal fees are different from legal costs, which include paying for a solicitor to represent you.

Your legal adviser will usually apply for legal aid on your behalf. Our experienced solicitors at JW Hughes can give you all the advice you need. If you need help or advice about legal aid for either criminal or family matters, please call us on 01492 596596 or 874774.