The Legal Aid Board is seeking to ensure that, during this difficult period, its services to the public continue to be provided in so far as possible. Your health and safety and the health and safety of our staff are our first priority. For this reason we have had to put in place measures to help reduce the risk of spreading the Coronavirus COVID-19.
Legal aid is still available
Some courts are continuing to sit to deal with urgent matters. If you need legal aid to ask the court for protection from an abusive spouse/partner or other family member, or to enforce an access or maintenance order that is not being complied with during the Covid-19 emergency, you can apply for legal aid. If you live in Dublin you should call us at 01 675 5566 for information on how to make the court application and to apply for legal aid. Outside Dublin you should contact your local law centre.
If Tusla has informed you that it intends to apply to the court to take your children into care, or your children have been taken into care, you can apply for legal aid in connection with these proceedings. You should contact your local law centre for information on how to apply.
If you wish to apply for legal aid for any other matter, you should read the information below before doing so. If you have court proceedings that have already started you should check the Courts Service website for further information. At present most other types of cases are being adjourned until later in the year.
Legal issues that may arise because of the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis
We have put together some information about legal issues that may arise because of the current crisis with a focus on private family law matters. This information is intended as a guide only and not legal advice specific to any individual's circumstances. It does however incorporate guidance issued by stakeholders such as the Courts Service of Ireland, the Family Lawyers Association and Law Society of Ireland.
What is generally being asked of all parties is that common sense prevails because of this crisis and that everyone should work towards agreements if at all possible.
The situation with Covid-19 is evolving quickly and we are endeavouring to keep our information up to date. If you have specific queries regarding your situation our Legal & Mediation Information Helpline may be able to help.
Attending Law Centres
In accordance with current public health policy all Legal Aid Board Law Centres are now closed to the general public except by prior appointment. All law centres continue to operate with remote working and social distancing arrangements in place. If you need to contact a law centre you can do so by phone or email. As already noted these measures are being put in place to ensure the health and well-being of both you as customers of the Board and of our staff. In response to the crisis we have also set up a Legal & Mediation Information Helpline which may be able to assist you with your query.
Making an application at this time
You can still apply for our services. If you wish to enquire about applying for Family Mediation you may still do so by telephone and contact details for our mediation centres are here. If you wish to make an application for civil legal aid at this time, we would encourage you to use our on-line application form or you can download the application form, complete it and return it to us by post. Applications for civil legal aid for a small number of certain matters cannot be processed through our online service and will need to be made by post. If you have any difficulties with this, please contact us on 1890 615 200 and we will endeavour to assist you.
If you are just seeking information at the moment we have lots of information on our website which may help. We have a large section describing our services which has a series of FAQs and also includes information to check if you are financially eligible for civil legal aid. We have information regarding family mediation. You may be wondering if it is civil or criminal legal aid that you need so you can read about the difference between civil and criminal legal aid.
Private Solicitors providing Civil Legal Aid
If you are receiving civil legal aid through a private solicitor who is a member of one of our solicitor panels, rather than a law centre, we would ask that you follow any guidance that your solicitor gives in relation to appointments, attendance at their premises, etc. You should check their firm's or practice's website or contact them directly.
Appointments and Courts Dates
If you already have an appointment with a law centre, the law centre will be in touch shortly to arrange a telephone appointment with your solicitor instead. If you have an urgent matter or need to speak with your solicitor urgently we would ask that you telephone the law centre rather than calling in person. Family Mediation appointments are being deferred until further notice and the family mediation centres will be in touch with you in due course to reschedule.
If your query relates to an impending court date, you should be aware that in all but urgent cases court proceedings have generally been adjourned for the moment. The Courts Service of Ireland have issued a statement which may help.
International Protection/Immigration Matters
If you are applying for international protection in Ireland, you can still apply for civil legal aid and advice.
If you are an international protection applicant or intend on making an application for International Protection at this time you should note:
- The International Protection Office have issued guidance with regard to upcoming interviews. All interviews up to 22nd May 2020 have been postponed until further notice and you will be contacted with the date of any rescheduled interview.
- The International Protection Appeals Tribunal have issued guidance with regard to upcoming appeals. All hearings currently scheduled up to and including the 26th May 2020 have been postponed. No further action is required.
However, you can contact the Law Centre/Solicitor dealing with your case if you have any particular queries.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) have issued a series of FAQs which may be relevant to you at this time.