Legal Aid

 Legal Aid

You may be eligible for Legal Aid, depending on your current financial circumstances and the merits of your case.

If you receive State Benefits or are on a low income, you may be eligible. We can carry out a financial assessment and advise you as to whether you are eligible to apply for Legal Aid to pursue your case.

If you are not eligible for Legal Aid we can explore the option of Legal Expenses Insurance with you.


 

Legal Aid

The Legal Aid scheme provides help for people of limited means by funding legal action in certain circumstances.

Legal Advice and Assistance (Green Form Scheme)

Advice and Assistance helps to pay for advice from a Solicitor on any point of Northern Ireland law. It may also cover the cost of a Solicitor who represents you in court. 

Depending on your financial circumstances you may have to pay a contribution towards your advice and assistance in civil matters.

Advice and Assistance covers a wide range of matters, provided they are matters of Northern Ireland law and that you qualify financially. This could include advice on:

  • Disputes over children
  • Divorce
  • Employment matters
  • Medical negligence
  • Making a will
  • Welfare issues such as housing

The Solicitor will decide on whether you meet the financial eligibility limits under the Advice and Assistance scheme.

Civil Legal Aid

Civil Legal Aid may provide funding for a Solicitor to put your case to the Court. It often covers the preparation work as well as the hearing itself, providing funding for barristers and (where appropriate) expert witnesses.

Examples of issues that Civil Legal Aid might help with are:

  • Divorce and other matters affecting family and children
  • Actions for compensation for injuries resulting from an accident or medical negligence

The granting of Civil Legal Aid is determined by the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission and is subject to a financial eligibility test which may require you to pay a contribution.

Criminal Legal Aid

Criminal Legal Aid may provide funding if someone is under police investigation or facing criminal charges.

A person being interviewed by the Police in connection with criminal charges is entitled to free legal aid for Police Station advice. This scheme is not means tested and you will not be required to make any contributions.

A Defendant’s Solicitor may also be able to apply, on their behalf, for Legal Aid Advice and Assistance, granted under what is known as the Green Form Scheme, for initial consultations. The Solicitor will assess a person’s means and determine their financial eligibility under the Green Form Scheme.

If the charges are subsequently brought to Court, a Solicitor may be able to apply to the Court for the grant of a Criminal Aid Certificate. In Northern Ireland the decision whether to grant Legal Aid is taken by the Court and Criminal Legal Aid is available for proceedings in the Magistrates Court, the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal.

The granting of Criminal Legal Aid by the Court is dependant on a Defendant passing a means test (that his means are insufficient for him to pay his own defence) and a merits test (that is in the interest of justice he should have free legal aid).

Statutory Charge

If you keep or gain money or property with the help of public funding from the Legal Services Commission in a civil case, the Commission is required by law to recover what it has spent on your case.  Therefore the Commission might have to take some of the money or property you have kept or gained to cover some or all of the costs of your case.  This is called the statutory charge.  The statutory charge does not apply in every case, so please contact for advice in relation to your particular circumstances.