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Legal Aid: The Facts

April 18, 2014 by lucas in Tips

If you are facing legal action, or need to explore your legal options and you are in financial hardship, then this guide may be able to help you see what you are entitled to. Please note: this guide is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.

 Legal aid, in short, is a payment from the public purse that can help individuals pay for legal matters and representation. Legal aid is available to individuals who cannot afford legal fees. The money that can be used to help with a wide range of cases, however, civil cases may not be covered under the current changes to legislation. Should you be in receipt of benefits, you will automatically receive legal aid should you need it. However, if you are on a low income, the application process will involve you providing an income and expenditure.  Legal aid is provided to those who need it, as all citizens should be able to access the legal system and have fair and equal access to justice.

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 In April 2013, the UK cut funding for legal aid, largely for those that needed aid for civil matters. While intended for those with insufficient means to pay for the law services themselves, legal aid has been cut, so those wishing to apply for it will face tough checks to ensure that they are eligible.

 Legal aid is no longer available for those wishing to obtain social justice for the following:

  • Debt matters

  • Employment issues

  • Housing issues

  • Family law

  • Criminal negligence

 Should your case be within the parameters of the aforementioned issues, then it is unlikely that you will be able to obtain legal aid to help you with your case.

The reforms may not be favourable for those on a low income, however, access to the legal system and access to legal representation is not always wholly expensive. Take a look at Gullands, who may be able to advise accordingly.

 On the other hand, should you be able to obtain legal aid, you will have access to help with the costs of legal advice and access to money to help you fund a solicitor who may be able to represent you in court, should your case get that far. While the chances of obtaining legal aid may be slim in light of the current UK government cuts, it is worth applying to check your eligibility for help. Bear in mind that the cut-off point for those wishing to obtain legal aid is just over £30,000 a year. If you are cohabiting or married, your partner’s income will also be taken into consideration. An income and expenditure will be needed to assess how much disposable income you have and access to the fund will be calculated on that basis. Do note that should you have more than £8,000 in savings or tied up in capital, it is unlikely you will receive legal aid.

Should you need assistance with any legal matters, it is always worth doing your research to see who can help you with such matters. Should you not be eligible for legal aid, do not despair. You may be able to seek advice at your local Citizens Advice.