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Access to Justice

 

Civil Legal Aid

The Legal Aid Board provides legal services in relation to civil law matters to eligible persons. These legal services include legal advice and legal aid. To qualify for services you must satisfy the Board’s financial eligibility requirements. You must also satisfy the Board that your case has merit. All board services are governed by the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations.

You can find out more information about the services most frequently sought from the Board in the information leaflets.

While the Board does not provide direct legal aid or advice in respect of criminal matters, it does hold the responsibility for the management and administration of three Ad-hoc Criminal Legal Aid Schemes, namely:
1. The Garda Station Legal Advice Revised Scheme
2. The Legal Aid – Custody Issues Scheme
3. The Criminal Assets Bureau Ad-hoc Legal Aid Scheme

Legal advice
Legal advice is any oral or written advices given by a solicitor or a barrister in civil matters. It can include writing letters on your behalf and acting for you in negotiations with other persons. Legal advice is provided by solicitors in the Board’s law centre network.

If you wish to seek legal advice in relation to any matter, you should contact your local law centre.

Legal advice is available in relation to most civil matters. If you need further information about the service available from the Board you should consult your local law centre.

Legal aid
Legal aid means representation by a solicitor or barrister in civil proceedings in the District, Circuit, High and Supreme Courts. Legal aid is available also for representation before the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Legal aid is not granted automatically. If you require representation for a court case, the Board will consider if it is reasonable for to grant legal aid. This procedure is called the merits test. This test is applied to each individual case. If the Board considers that it is reasonable to grant legal aid, a legal aid certificate will be issued to you and you will have legal representation for your case.

Legal aid is provided by solicitors employed by the Board in its law centres. In certain family law and asylum cases, legal aid may be provided by solicitors in private practice who are contracted by the Board and placed on a panel for this purpose.

Legal aid is available in relation to most civil matters. A limited number of matters are excluded from the scope of civil legal aid, and you should consult with your local law centre solicitor if you need more information or clarification on this.

Much of the legal aid that is provided by the Board relates to family disputes. The Board is keen to ensure that going to court is seen as the last option and you will be advised appropriately of other options available to you. The Courts Service and the Office of the Ombudsman for Children have jointly produced a video about going to the family courts. The video is aimed at parents and a separate video is aimed at children aged 13 – 15. The video can be viewed from this link.

If you wish to seek legal aid, you should contact your local law centre. If you live in the Dublin area and wish to seek assistance for a District Court family law matter, you can contact the Board’s Private Practitioner Service at Dolphin House Law Centre, 3rd Floor Dolphin House, East Essex Street, Dublin 2, telephone no 01 675 5561.

Information on applications received by the Board and the waiting times at the Board's law centres can be found here