Financial Eligibility & Contributions
Financial Eligibility & Contributions
In order to get civil legal aid advice, 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 you assets.
In most cases you will have a 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.
You don't have to pay a contribution if:
- Tusla is asking the Court to allow it to take your children into State care or to allow its staff to supervise your children in your own home.
- You are taking or defending proceedings in the District Court for a barring order, safety order, protection order, or interim barring order
There are a small number of other circumstances where we won't charge a contribution. These include cases where we give legal advice to a person who alleges that the have been a victim of rape or sexual assault or represent them at the trail of the person who has been accused of committing the rape or sexual assault.
International protection (asylum)
If you're applying for legal aid to help you with a claim for international protection in Ireland, you'll only need to pay a contribution of €10.
How is my income assessed?
The first step is for you to complete a statement of means on the application for legal services form. You will be asked to give the following information on the form:
Income- this is you total income, for example wages, salary, social welfare payments(though some social welfare payments such as Child Benefit and Carer's Allowance are not included) (No housing support measure, provided by any public body, will be treated as income either), pension and certain personal circumstances and also certain items of expenditure in order to decide what allowances may be offset against your income for the purpose of calculating you disposable income.
The allowances are as follow:
|Adult and Child Dependents||€1,600 per dependent|
|Child Care||€6,000 per child|
|Income Tax||Full Amount|
|Universal social charge||Full Amount|
|Ex-gratia payments received||Deduction of €20 for each payment received each week.|
We will calculate you disposable income and advise you of the contribution that you must pay. You may complete the statement of means form on you own, or staff in the law centre will help you to complete the for if you are unable to do so. Our website www.legalaidboard.ie has an on-line indicator which will assist you in finding out if you are likely to be financially eligible. The indicator does not guarantee financial eligibility for legal services. It only acts as a guide.
How do I confirm my main source of income and allowances?
You may be required to provide confirmation of your main source of income by providing, for example:
- A copy of your latest payslip
- A copy of your social welfare slip
- A rent book/mortgage statement
We can request the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to investigate the means of any person applying for, or in receipt of, legal services. In some circumstances, we might ask you to provide further documentation in relation to the allowances you have claimed.
How are my capital resources calculated?
The value of your home is excluded for the assessment of your capital resources. If your capital resources are more that €4000 you must complete the statement of capital on the application form. The following information is required:
- Capital - Your total capital of every nature, whether in the form of property, car, cash in hand, in the ban, investments or other resources and
- Debt - You may be given an allowance for certain debts that may be offset against capital for the purposes of arriving at disposable capital, or example, credit union loans.
What happens if I am awarded costs?
If you awarded costs of your case then these must be paid into the Legal Aid Fund and used to pay the costs we spent providing you with legal services. This does not usually happen on family law cases. In non family law cases if you win your case you will isially be awarded your costs. If on the other hand you lose you case, the other party's costs might be awarded against you. If this happens, we are nit liable to pay the other party's costs and you are personally responsible.
What happens if I gain or keep money or other property as a result of my case?
If you gain or keep money or real property as a result of your case, we are allowed - with some exceptions - to use that money or real property to pay for you legal aid. You must pay into our Legal Aid Fund any money you gain or keep as a result of your case that is not exempt. We will deduct our cost and give you back what is left. If it is real property (for example a house or land) that you gain or keep we are entitled to place what is known as a "charge" on that property, so that it cannot be sold until we are repaid. We do not always do this.
What should I do if there is a change in my financial circumstances?
If you are in receipt of legal services you must tell us (through your solicitor) of any change in your income or capital, for example, if you have been given a pay rise, the value of your social welfare has changed, or if you have bought a new car or house. The reason you need to do this is because you must stay eligible for legal services while you are receiving legal services, until your case is closed. Just because you financial circumstances have improved does not necessarily mean we will stop your legal aid, though we might ask you to pay a higher contribution.
What will happen if I fail to notify the law centre of a change in my circumstances?
If you do not tell us that your income or capital has changed, and we discover that it has, we might decide to stop your legal aid. Our leaflet Withdrawal of Legal Services describes this process. I some circumstances, where we "revoke" rather than "terminate" your legal aid certificate, you might have to repay all of the money we have spent providing you with legal aid.
If you need further information, our staff will be happy to assist.
Legal Aid Board, Quay Street, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, V23 RD36
Lo Call No: 1890 615 200
Tel: (066) 947 1000/ Fax: (066) 947 1035
HOURS OF OPENING
10.00AM - 12.30PM & 2.00PM - 4.00PM