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Am I eligible for legal aid? Task

This information is about legal aid in England and Wales. Rules for legal aid are different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Legal aid is help towards legal costs for people who can’t afford them. There are legal costs involved with getting advice from lawyers, family mediation, and having a lawyer to represent you in court or at a tribunal.

Legal aid may cover all or part of your legal costs, or pay the costs upfront that you pay back later. If legal aid is withdrawn, you may need to pay back the full legal costs.

Legal aid pays for:

  • advice on your rights and options
  • help with your negotiations and paperwork
  • advice at a police station if you’re charged with a crime
  • a solicitor to prepare for your legal case
  • a barrister to speak for you in court or at a tribunal

Legal aid can be used if, for example:

  • you or your family are at risk of serious harm
  • you’re at risk of homelessness
  • you’ve been accused of a crime
  • you’re being discriminated against
  • you need family mediation
  • you need representation at a mental health tribunal or inquest
  • you’re bringing a case under the Human Rights Act

Whether you can apply for legal aid depends on your legal case (criminal vs civil) and your financial situation. 

There are two types of legal cases:

  • Civil (non-criminal) – problems like debt, family and housing
  • Criminal – where you are charged with a criminal offence like murder, assault or burglary

To apply for legal aid in a civil case, you will need to show that you can’t afford to pay for legal help. You will need to give details of your finances like income, benefits, savings, and property, including payslips, bank statements and benefit statements. If you have a partner, details about their finances will be needed too.

If you’re under 18, you may need to give details about your parents’ or guardians’ income.

You won’t need to give your financial details for cases about mental health tribunals, children in care or child abduction.

You may also need to give details about your problem. For example, if you are a victim of abuse, you may need to show a doctor’s letter or court order.

You can check if you qualify for legal aid in a civil case by using this online calculator.

Everyone can have free legal advice if you’re questioned at a police station.

If you’re under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits, you automatically get legal aid to pay for a lawyer to represent you in court.

You can apply for other legal aid in a criminal case if you can show that you can’t afford to pay for legal help.

Your legal adviser will apply for legal aid for you. If you qualify, the government will pay their costs directly.

If you are being held by the police, a police officer will help you get legal aid.

Make sure to tell your legal adviser if your financial situation changes. If legal aid is withdrawn, you may have to pay the full legal costs.

If you are not eligible for legal aid, you can pay for legal advice, or you can get free advice from: