In April 2013 legal aid changed. The types of cases covered by legal aid are being restricted and the evidence required to get legal aid will be stricter.
This page is designed to assist those considering whether they are eligible to receive legal aid in advance of contacting a solicitor.
For funding of cases under alternative arrangements please see our services.
Legal Aid for Housing Related Problems
Legal aid is available for people on a low income with little or no savings who are facing eviction or are homeless.
In certain cases of serious disrepair where a medical professional has provided evidence that the disrepair is resulting in the tenants experiencing health problems, legal aid is also available.
Depending on the level of your income, your legal advice and representation may be free or you may have to make a regular financial contribution towards the total cost of your case. You can check your eligibility for legal aid using the legal aid calculator which is available at www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid
If you appear to be eligible for legal aid we will need evidence of your income from all sources for the last 3 months. You will need to provide bank/building society/post office statements for all accounts that you hold, wage slips, benefit award letters and your most recent benefit letters.
If you attend without the full evidence of your income which is required by the Legal Aid Agency, either you will have to pay for your appointment or we will not be able to see you.
If you have an appointment but are unclear what you need or are experiencing delays in obtaining the evidence, ring and discuss it with the person you are due to be meeting or with our team secretary.
Some types of case continue to be covered by legal aid as they are ‘within scope’ of the new legislation:
- Most cases that involve Social Services
- Unlawful removal of children within and outside UK
- Non Molestation Orders & Occupation Orders (sometimes referred to as injunctions)
- Forced marriage
- Children as parties to proceedings
- EU and international agreements re children or maintenance
- Help with Mediation (assisting someone with the legal consequences of mediation)
Some of these cases still require a means test and the best place to check eligibility is the Government calculator.
There are other cases for which legal aid is available for those who can prove that they are the victims of domestic abuse or their child is at risk of abuse:
- Children Act cases – residence, contact, Special Guardianship, Parental Responsibility, specific issues, prohibited steps
- Divorce / separation and consequential financial arrangements between a victim and perpetrator
Evidence of domestic abuse
The person applying for legal aid will have to provide one of the following before they can receive free assistance.
The wording required by the Legal Aid Agency is very precise and we have provided links to download standard letters to assist.
Option one - from the police or probation
- a relevant unspent conviction for a domestic violence offence;
- a relevant police caution for a domestic violence offence given within the twenty four month period immediately preceding the date of the application for civil legal services;
- evidence of relevant criminal proceedings for a domestic violence offence which have not concluded;
Option two - from a lawyer
- a relevant protective injunction which is in force or which was granted within the twenty four month period immediately preceding the date of the application for civil legal services;
- an undertaking given in England and Wales under section 46 or 63E of the Family Law Act 1996 [undertaking under an application for a Non Molestation Order, Occupation Order or Forced Marriage Protection Order] (or given in Scotland or Northern Ireland in place of a protective injunction):
- by the individual (“B”) with whom the applicant for civil legal services (“A”) was in a family relationship giving rise to the need for the civil legal services which are the subject of the application; and
- within the twenty four month period immediately preceding the date of the application for civil legal services,
- provided that a cross-undertaking was not given by A;
Option three - from MARAC
A letter from the person appointed to chair a multi-agency risk assessment conference confirming that:
- A was referred to the conference as a high risk victim of domestic violence; and
- the conference has, within the twenty four month period immediately preceding the date of the application for civil legal services, put in place a plan to protect A from a risk of harm by B;
Option four - from a lawyer
(There is no standard letter for this option – please seek legal advice)
A copy of a finding of fact, made in proceedings in the United Kingdom within the twenty four month period immediately preceding the date of the application for civil legal services, that there has been domestic violence by B giving rise to a risk of harm to A;
Option five - from a doctor, nurse or midwife
A letter or report from a health professional confirming that the professional:
- has examined A within the twenty four month period immediately preceding the date of the application for civil legal services;
- was satisfied following that examination that A had injuries or a condition consistent with those of a victim of domestic violence; and
- has no reason to believe that A’s injures or condition were not caused by domestic violence;
Option six - from Social Services
A letter from a social services department in England or Wales (or its equivalent in Scotland or Northern Ireland) confirming that, within the twenty four month period immediately preceding the date of the application, A was assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of domestic violence by B (or a copy of that assessment);
Option seven - from a domestic abuse support agency
A letter or report from a domestic violence support organisation in the United Kingdom confirming:
- that A was, within the 60 month period immediately preceding the date of the application for civil legal services, admitted for a period of twenty four hours or more to a refuge established for the purpose of providing accommodation for victims of, or those at risk of, domestic violence;
- the dates on which A was admitted to and, where relevant, left the refuge; and
- that A was admitted to the refuge because of allegations by A of domestic violence.
In addition to the classes of legal aid outlined above there will also be a new group of cases eligible for funding. They are to be called ‘exceptional cases’ and these are ones that do not fit into any of the categories above but are so exceptional they should be funded.
Very little guidance about these cases is expected but the expectation is that they will be cases proposed under Human Rights grounds.