Do I Qualify for Legal Aid?

Caragh Bailey
02/11/2021
45
3 min read
Do I Qualify for Legal Aid? A Guide from Parachute Law

What exactly is legal aid?

The Legal Aid Agency Scheme helps people pay their legal costs, like hiring a barrister or solicitor, plus family mediation. Only certain cases are eligible, the issue must be serious and you must not have the means to pay these costs yourself.

Who is entitled to legal aid?

Some examples include someone who is:
  • at risk of abuse or serious harm
  • at risk of becoming homeless
  • accused of a crime, face prison or detention
  • being discriminated against
  • in need of family mediation
  • bringing a case or adding legal arguments under the Human Rights Act

What is legal aid given for?

If you qualify, you could get legal aid to cover:
  • Legal advice on your rights
  • Legal advice on your next steps
  • Legal support in negotiations & paperwork
  • A solicitor to get your case ready for court and some tribunal
  • A barrister to speak for you in court and some tribunals
  • Help defending yourself against accusation of a crime - for example advice during questioning by the police, after you've been arrested

What are the types of legal aid?

Criminal legal aid is for people who have been arrested. You are entitled to free legal advice if you are arrested. You should request one if you are going to be interviewed by the police. After you leave the police station, you may be able to apply for criminal legal aid for any legal fees involved in your defence. This will be means tested.

Civil legal aid is for legal services between you and another person or business, like debt, family problems and housing disputes.

You can get guidance to see if you qualify for civil legal aid from GOV.UK

What if I don't qualify for legal aid?

Some legal professionals provide services for free in the public interest. This is called pro bono work, which is short for 'pro bono publico' - in the public good.

Pro-bono legal services

If you don't qualify for legal aid and you cannot afford to pay for your legal fees yourself, you may be able to get help from a pro bono lawyer.

You can get help from Law Works to find a pro bono lawyer.

Although legal aid funding has been growing slowly for the last 5 years it is still a long way off of recovering from cuts made 2011-2015.

The pandemic has seen increasing pressure on the legal aid scheme and in turn this has put increased pressure on pro bono services.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in delays to accessing justice and not everyone is able to get the help that they need.

Can I get any other help paying my legal fees?

Many people have legal expenses insurance as part of another insurance policy, most commonly, on their home insurance, or car insurance. It is worth checking your policy as you may find that you can get a pay-out for property or employment disputes through your home insurance, or motoring disputes through your car insurance.

Litigation Funding
If all of these options fail, you may be able to get help with litigation funding. This works slightly differently, as instead of being means tested, litigation funding is granted based on the merits of your case.

There are a number of services which may provide some of the up front costs on an agreement which promises the provider a share of your winnings.

As they are essentially gambling on you winning your claim - with a sizeable award - you will only be considered for litigation if your claim is very strong.

You may find that if your risk of losing your case is high, anyone funding your litigation will want to agree a higher take of your winnings to compensate for the higher risk.


Do you have a legal problem?


We can assist with:
  • Working out your beneficial interest
  • Pre-action negotiations
  • Application to court
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Mediation
  • Court appearance

We have on hand counsel to support your claim and offer guidance along the way.

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