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  • CHRISTMAS 2010: We are closed on the 25th, 27th and 28th December and the 1st and 3rd January. On 24th and 31st December we will close at 6:30pm rather than the usual 8pm.

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What is legal aid?

Legal aid helps with the costs of legal advice for people who can't afford it.

If you need help with the costs of legal advice, you can apply for legal aid. Whether you will receive it depends on:

  • the type of legal problem you have;
  • your income (how much you earn) and how much capital (money, property, belongings) you have;
  • whether there is a reasonable chance of winning your case and whether it is worth the time and money needed to win.

What kind of problems can I get legal aid for?

Legal aid is available for many types of civil legal problem. A civil legal case is one in which you have a dispute with a person, company or other organisation.

For example, a civil problem can be to do with your:

  • home
  • relationships (you may be separating or divorcing)
  • money (you may be having difficulty receiving benefits).

You can get legal aid for criminal cases, too. To find a solicitor to represent you, use our directory or call our helpline.

You get free legal aid at the police station, if you've been arrested. Ask the police for an independent solicitor. It's your right.

In court you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence, if you can afford to do so.

You must fill in an 'Application for Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings', which your solicitor will give you. If you do not fill in this form, you will not get legal aid. When you visit your solicitor, you should take evidence of your income with you, if you can. For example, if you're:

  • on income or job seeking benefits
    take your national insurance number or letter confirming your benefits
  • employed
    take your latest pay slip
  • self-employed
    take your latest full self-assessment tax return form or latest set of accounts.

You should apply for legal aid before you attend court if you can.

How do I find out if I can get legal aid?

You can use our legal aid calculator to see whether you could get legal aid for a civil case. If you have been charged with a crime and want to know if you could get legal aid in the courts, speak to a solicitor who specialises in criminal law. You can use our directory to find one.

For criminal cases, you will need to go through a means test. The website of the Gurkha Free Legal Advice contains more information about means testing.

More information

To learn more about legal aid, please read our leaflet "A Step-by-step Guide to Legal Aid" (this link opens in a new window).

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