Can I get civil legal aid and advice?
In some limited circumstances, we grant civil legal aid and advice automatically. In most other cases, we must look at what your income and assets are. If you need to go to Court we will also examine the merits of the case.
Income and assets
If your case does not automatically qualify for legal aid, we must undertake a means test of your financial circumstances to see if you qualify for our services. To get civil legal aid and advice you will need to have an annual disposable income of less than €18,000 and disposable assets of less than €100,000. In both cases, we apply certain allowances when calculating these. We do not include the house you live in when calculating your assets.
You can check whether you are likely to qualify for civil legal aid.
Find out more about how we calculate your disposable income and assets.
Merits of the case
If you need to go to Court, we will look at the merits of the case before we can allow a solicitor or barrister to represent you in Court.
We consider whether an average person (not a wealthy person) would be willing to go to Court if they were paying for it with their own money. We also consider if a solicitor or a barrister acting reasonably would recommend that you go to court, knowing you were paying for it yourself and based on the facts of your case.
We may examine other factors such as:
- Do you have grounds for taking the case, or defending the case the other person is taking against you?
- Is it the best way of solving your dispute?
- Would you be likely to win your case?
- The cost to the taxpayer against the benefit you might receive if you win.
Where the welfare of a child is at stake – for example, in cases where the State is trying to take your children into care, or a dispute over who has custody of a child – we will not take into account whether or not you would be likely to win the case or a cost/benefit analysis.
Your solicitor will discuss the merits test with you, if you need to go to Court.