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Access to Justice


Civil legal aid and advice

Civil legal aid and advice gives you advice about your legal problem. We can help you try to solve your problem, and if you need to go to court, we might be able to provide you with a solicitor and/or barrister to represent you.

What is legal aid and advice?
Legal advice is where we provide advice to you on your problem. We may also write letters or conduct negotiations on your behalf in order to settle your dispute amicably. If we can’t settle your dispute and you need to go to court, legal aid provides representation in Court. We can provide legal aid in all of the civil courts, but we can’t provide legal aid in any administrative tribunal other than the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

What does civil legal aid and advice cover?
Civil law relates to problems which involve you and another person or organisation. Examples of civil law disputes include:

> Family disputes – including marriage breakdown and disputes involving your children

> Actions by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) to take your children into care or supervise them in your home.

> Claims for damages as a result of injuries which have been caused to you

> Claims for damages as a result of breach of a contract

> Property disputes (but we can't provide legal aid for most property disputes)

> Disputes with your employer (but we can’t provide legal aid before the Workplace Relations Commission or Labour Court).

There are some civil matters that we can’t provide legal aid in, such as defamation (formerly known as libel and slander), most property disputes and alcohol licencing applications. Even then there are some exceptions. You may wish to speak to a member of staff in our law centres if you are unsure that civil legal aid will cover your problem.

Civil legal aid and advice doesn’t cover when you have been charged with a criminal offence. If you’ve been accused of committing a crime, you should speak to a solicitor in private practice or ask the judge for legal aid on the first day your case is in court.

Can I get civil legal aid and advice?
Civil legal aid and advice is for people who can’t afford to pay a private solicitor to represent them. Your income and assets must be below certain levels before we can help. Check if you might be eligible.

If you need to go to court, we’ll also look at the merits of your case.

How do I get civil legal aid and advice
We have thirty offices, called law centres, around the country where you can apply for civil legal aid and advice. After you apply you might have to wait for an appointment. If your case is in the District Court that sits at Dolphin House, in East Essex Street, Dublin 2, you can apply for legal aid at our office there.

You can download the application form and return it to any of our law centres. There is a different application form if you want to apply for civil legal aid and advice for assistance with making an application for asylum.

If you’re living in another EU member state (including Northern Ireland) and want to apply for civil legal aid in Ireland, you’ll need to fill out the EU legal aid application form.

How much will I have to pay?
Civil legal aid and advice usually isn’t free. You’ll have to make a payment, called a contribution, when you first see a solicitor. You’ll have to make a further payment if we agree to represent you in Court. There are a small number of cases where there is no contribution.

Sometimes, at the end of the case, you might have to pay back the cost of your legal aid, if you gain or keep money or property as a result of your case.

I'm dissatisfied with a decision of the Legal Aid Board or the service provided
You can ask for a review or appeal of any decision we take, including a decision on whether or not you can get legal aid.

If you are dissatisfied with the service provided by the law centre, your solicitor or your barrister, find out about making a complaint.

I'm interested in doing civil legal aid work
Find out about our vacancies for solicitors, the work we give to private solicitors or about the civil legal aid panel for barristers.

Other options in family disputes
Much of the legal aid and advice that we provide relates to family disputes. We are keen to ensure that going to court is seen as the last option and our staff will advise you of other options available. 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.

Find out more about family mediation.

Other useful information

> Information leaflets

> Self help guides

> Useful links

> Information on applications received and waiting times