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Help with paying legal costs

  • Legal aid can help you pay for some or all of your legal costs. You may be able to get legal aid if you’re on a low income and your problem is serious. For example, you could get legal aid if:

    • you're at risk of losing your home
    • you or your family are at risk of abuse or serious harm such as domestic violence

    Some solicitors offer legal aid for certain types of cases.

    Find a legal aid solicitor

    Cases where you can apply for legal aid

    Asylum and immigration

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    You can get legal aid for:

    • asylum applications
    • applications to be identified as a victim of trafficking
    • applications to remain in the UK or get EU citizenship after a relationship breakdown due to domestic violence
    • bail applications for immigration detainees
    • Special Immigration Appeals Commission proceedings
    • Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures notices
    • potential exceptional case funding for other immigration matters that involve human rights issues

    Community care

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    You can get legal aid for:

    • advice about help or services from your local authority and the NHS because of illness, disability or mental capacity (including Court of Protection cases)
    • disputes about the quality of care in hospitals and residential or nursing homes
    • disputes about abuse or neglect issues

    Criminal cases

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    All criminal cases qualify for legal aid, except for certain minor offences such as speeding.

    Debt

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    You can get legal aid if:

    • you might lose your home due to outstanding payments on your mortgage
    • the person or company you owe money to is making you bankrupt
    • the person or company you owe money to is taking you to court to sell your home

    Discrimination

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    You can get legal aid if you believe you’ve been unlawfully discriminated against.

    Education

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    You can get legal aid if you disagree with a special educational needs decision about your child.

    Family

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    You can get legal aid for:

    • applications for forced marriage protection orders
    • care cases – cases involving social services relating to children at risk, being taken into care or in care (parents and grandparents can be represented)
    • cases where your child has been or is about to be taken out of the UK without your consent
    • some High Court proceedings about the welfare of your child
    • family mediation, to resolve disputes about children and finance due to a relationship breakdown
    • an injunction (a court order) against a violent or abusive partner or family member
    • other family problems, such as advice on finances, children or divorce, if you or your child have suffered or are at risk of violence or abuse
    • if you’ve been served with proceedings under the “Hague Convention”

    Housing

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    You can get legal aid for:

    • unlawful eviction
    • possession claims
    • antisocial behaviour cases
    • harassment injunctions (court orders)
    • taking legal action against your landlord for serious disrepair
    • homelessness, including asylum support for accommodation

    Mental health and mental capacity

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    You can get legal aid for:

    • representation at mental health tribunals if you’re detained in hospital
    • advice if you’ve been sectioned (for Court of Protection cases and for appeals against deprivation of liberty safeguards)

    Welfare benefits and council tax reduction

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    You can only get legal aid for appeals on a point of law to the:

    • Upper Tribunal
    • High Court
    • Court of Appeal
    • Supreme Court

    Other cases

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    You can get legal aid for:

    • gang-related violence
    • cross-border disputes
    • confiscation proceedings
    • protection from harassment
    • advice on disabled facilities grants
    • nuisance caused by environmental pollution
    • civil claims for abuse and sexual assault allegations
    • assistance at inquests (but not representation unless exceptional case funding is obtained)
    • clinical negligence for children with brain injuries, if the injuries were caused in pregnancy, childbirth or up to eight weeks’ postnatal and have resulted in severe disability
    • an appeal against a decision stopping you from working with children and vulnerable adults

    Exceptional case funding

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    You may be able to get legal aid in other exceptional cases, if you can show that being refused legal aid would infringe:

    • your rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
    • your EU rights to legal representation

    Check if you can get legal aid

    Whether you’ll get legal aid will depend on:

    • the type of case
    • your financial situation

    Means testing works out if you’re financially eligible for legal aid. It means that the following are considered when deciding whether you can get legal aid:

    • income
    • family circumstances (such as number of children)
    • living costs (such as mortgage or rent)

    There are two types of legal aid: for civil and for criminal cases.

    All applications for legal aid for criminal cases are means tested. But some applications for legal aid for civil cases are not means tested, for example care cases and Mental Health Tribunal cases.

    Civil cases

    Civil (non-criminal) cases are often private disputes between people or disputes about government or local services. You can check if you're eligible for civil legal aid on GOV.UK.

    If you cannot get legal aid, you may still be able to get free legal advice.

    Criminal cases

    If you’re arrested and taken to a police station, legal advice is free. Ask the police to call the duty solicitor, or another named solicitor if you know one.

    If you’re going to be interviewed by the police, it’s important that a solicitor is there to advise you before and during the interview.

    Any legal advice or representation you need after you leave the police station is means tested.

    Not everyone is able to get criminal legal aid, and in the Crown Court you may have to pay towards some or all of your legal costs.

    Find a legal aid solicitor

    Find a solicitor in England and Wales using our free website

    Choose your legal issue and enter your location. Select ‘more search options’ and tick ‘accepts legal aid’.

    Some legal advisers and family mediators can also offer legal aid. Find legal aid advisers or family mediators on GOV.UK