Legal aid – guidance

Work out who qualifies for civil legal aid

Legal aid providers: test scope, merits and means; access legislation and regulations; use the civil legal aid calculator and manual.

Overview

The rules about who qualifies for legal aid are set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) and regulations.

Lord Chancellor's guidance (under section 4 of LASPO) (PDF, 565KB, 65 pages) is also available to help determine who qualifies for legal aid.

You’ll need to consider:

  • scope - whether the case is one for which legal aid is available
  • merits - the likelihood of your client being successful
  • means - your client’s financial eligibility

You should direct clients with debt, discrimination or education problems - who need initial advice and assistance (known as legal help) - to the Civil Legal Advice (CLA) service unless they’re exempt as set out in part 2 of the Civil Legal Aid Procedure Regulations 2012. Find more information in CLA provider guidance. Leaflets for members of the public and guidance for advice practitioners are available to download below.

Scope

You can only provide civil legal aid to cover specific types of civil dispute as set out in Schedule 1, LASPO. For further guidance on the legal aid reform changes read Legal aid reform frequently asked questions (PDF, 479KB, 24 pages) .

Legal aid may be available in other exceptional circumstances: you can make an application to the exceptional case funding team. Read more guidance on exceptional case funding. Your client must still meet the merits and means criteria.

For further guidance please read Scope of family proceedings under LASPO (PDF, 255KB, 3 pages) .

Merits

You must consider the merits of the case including the likelihood of success and benefit to the client before you make an application on behalf of your client. Merits are covered in full in Civil Legal Aid (Merits Criteria) Regulations 2013.

Information is also available in Lord Chancellor’s guidance (see above).

Means

In most cases you’ll also need to complete a financial eligibility check on your client to see if they qualify for legal aid as set out in Civil Legal Aid (Financial Resources and Payment for Services) Regulations 2013.

Read more guidance on civil legal aid means testing and financial eligibility.

Find financial assessment forms, and read guidance and a checklist for civil legal aid financial assessment forms.

Calculate if your client qualifies for civil legal aid, then print and complete the correct forms identified by the calculator. (You should use the online calculator instead of making manual calculations where possible.)

Make an application

Apply for civil legal aid - including guidance on applications, how to deal with specialist cases and access to Legal Aid Agency (LAA) forms.

Title Purpose
Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 Explains procedures for applying for different forms of civil legal aid. Includes acceptable forms of evidence when applying for civil legal services in a private family law matter where there’s risk or evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
Civil Legal Aid (Family Relationship) Regulations 2012 Defines orders made under section 14, Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 as ‘matters arising out of a family relationship’.
Civil Legal Aid (Pollution of the Environment) Regulations 2012 Defines the types of environmental pollution which justify the client seeking an injunction.
Civil Legal Aid (Immigration Interviews)(Exceptions) Regulations 2012 Sets out where legal aid may be available for clients attending an asylum application interview.
Civil Legal Aid (Preliminary Proceedings) Regulations 2013 Prescribes that a first-tier tribunal application on a welfare benefits matter is not to be regarded as preliminary to the appeal in the upper tribunal.
Civil Legal Aid (Connected Matters) Regulations 2013 Sets out how to apply the connected matters rule.
Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013 Sets out fees payable for civil legal services.
Civil Legal Aid (Costs) Regulations 2013 Makes provision for cost protection and costs orders.
The Civil Legal Aid (Statutory Charge) Regulations 2013 Sets out how civil legal services charges against property are set, modified and collected.
The Legal Aid (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2013 Allows legal aid providers to disclose information to the LAA.

Tables of delegated authorities

Civil Legal Aid (Financial Resources and Payment for Services) Regulations 2013

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Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013

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Civil Legal Aid (Merits Criteria) Regulations 2013

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Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012

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Civil Legal Aid (Statutory Charge) Regulations 2013

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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

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Legal Aid (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2013

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Legal Aid (Information about Financial Resources) Regulations 2013

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Legal Aid (Financial Resources and Payment for Services) (Legal Persons) Regulations 2013

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Leaflets for the public and guidance for advice providers

Civil legal advice: debt leaflet

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Civil legal advice: discrimination leaflet

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Civil legal advice: special educational needs leaflet

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Civil legal advice: practitioners guide

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Civil legal aid covers disputes with another person, company or organisation. Legal aid may also available for the representation of criminal matters.