Paying for your civil legal aid and advice
Civil legal aid and advice is not usually free.
In most cases you will have to make a payment which we call a contribution. The amount of the contribution(s) will depend on your disposable income and assets.
When you first see a solicitor you will have to pay an advice contribution. The minimum advice contribution is €30. Depending on your income, you might have to pay up to €150.
If we agree to represent you in Court, you must pay an aid contribution. The minimum aid contribution is €130. Depending on your income and assets you might have to pay more. The amount of the aid contribution includes the advice contribution, so in the case where your contribution is calculated at €130, you would only need to pay a further €100.
Find out how we calculate your contribution.
If you are applying for legal aid to help you with a claim for asylum or subsidiary protection in Ireland, you will only need to pay a contribution of €10.
Can I pay my contribution in instalments?
Yes, but only if:
- You would not be able to get a loan to pay it somewhere else;
- It would cause you hardship to have to pay it all; and
- It would be unreasonable for us to ask you to pay it all at once.
If you are allowed to pay in installments you will have to pay the full amount within twelve months. Your solicitor will not be allowed to file the papers that start a court action (except in the District Court) or that explain to the person suing you what your defence is, before you pay the full amount. If you stop paying us, your solicitor might not be allowed act for you any more.
I cannot afford to pay my contribution
If you cannot afford to pay the contribution, you can apply to the Board to have it waived. We will only do this if we think that paying the contribution would cause you undue hardship. You should speak to a member of staff in the law centre if you want to apply for a waiver.
Changes in financial circumstances
If you apply, or are receiving civil legal aid and advice from us, you must tell us if your circumstances change – for example if you get a new job or lose your job, your pay is increased or cut, or you get or lose a social welfare payment.
We are able to re-assess your disposable income at any time while you are receiving legal services. If we reassess your income, and it has changed significantly, we can:
- reduce your contribution and refund you the difference (but we will only do this within twelve months of date of application)
- decide that you must pay a higher contribution; or
- stop your legal aid, if it is found that you no longer qualify.
Paying back the cost of your legal aid
Sometimes, at the end of a case, if you gained or kept money or property because of the case, that money or property must be used to pay for your legal aid. This does not happen in every case, and your solicitor will discuss this with you if it might occur. It is possible in cases of hardship to have the requirement to repay some or all of the cost of your legal aid back waived. The Board will always waive some types of money or property gained or kept. You can read about applying for a waiver of costs here.
Cases where civil legal aid and advice is free
You will not have to pay a contribution if you are seeking legal aid only for either of the following:
- Taking or defending an application in the District Court for a barring order, safety order, interim barring order, or protection order
- Defending an application by Tusla to take your children into foster care or to allow its staff to supervise your children in your own home
There are a small number of other circumstances where we will not charge a contribution.