Whether you qualify for legal aid will depend on:

  • the type of case
  • your financial circumstances

Civil (non-criminal) cases

Civil cases include things like debt, family or housing problems. To get legal aid, you usually need to show you cannot afford to pay for legal costs and your problem is serious.

You’ll usually have to give details and evidence of your income, benefits, savings and property, and those of your partner. If you’re under 18, you may need to give information about your parents’ or guardians’ income.

Your financial situation is not taken into account for cases about:

  • mental health tribunals
  • children in care
  • your child being abducted

You may also have to provide evidence about your problem, for example in a divorce case by providing a court order or GP letter showing that you or your child have been a victim of abuse.

Check if you qualify for legal aid to get help with civil cases.

If your human rights are at risk, you could get legal aid for cases that would not usually be eligible.

Paying the costs of your case

Legal aid might not cover all the costs of your case. You may have to:

  • pay some of the costs upfront
  • pay back some of the cost if you win money or property from your case

Read about paying for legal aid.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will make a charge or claim – known as the ‘statutory charge’ – on any money or property you win. If this is your home, payment can be deferred and the debt placed as a charge on your home (similar to a mortgage).

Your legal adviser will explain how this works.

Contact the LAA’s Secured Debt Team to discuss how to pay.

Secured Debt Team
Telephone: 0300 200 2020
Find out about call charges

If legal aid is withdrawn, you may have to repay the full legal costs.

Criminal cases

You have the right to free legal advice if you’re questioned at a police station.

You’ll automatically get legal aid for legal representation in court if you’re under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

If you cannot get legal aid, you may be able to get free advice from:

You can also pay for advice from a local legal adviser or solicitor.