We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. If you continue, we'll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website. See our Privacy & Cookie policy statement for more information on cookies and how to manage them.

Civil Legal Aid and Advice

Civil Legal Aid and Advice

About Civil Legal Aid

Civil legal aid and advice is a State-funded service which provides legal advice and legal aid in civil cases to people who might not be able to afford to pay for a lawyer themselves.  To qualify for legal aid and advice:

  1. Your problem must be covered by civil legal aid
  2. You will need to have income and assets before a certain limit, after certain deductions are taken into account.
  3. Depending on your case, if you want civil legal aid, your case will need to satisfy a "merits test ".  The main purpose of the merits test is to see if a person paying for a lawyer out of their own money would be likely to pay for the case, and if a lawyer would advise a person to take a case, knowing that they would be paying for it themselves.

What does civil legal aid and advice cover?

Civil law relates to problems that 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 injury which have been cause by you
  • Claim for damages as a result of breach of contract
  • Property disputes (but we cannot provide legal aid for most property disputes)
  • Disputes with your employer (but we cannot provide legal aid before the Workplace Relations Commission or Labour Court)

What types of problems are not covered by civil legal aid?

There are some civil matters that we cannot 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 centre if you are unsure that civil legal aid will cover your problem.

Civil legal aid and advice does not cover when you have been charged with a criminal offence.  If you have 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.

We cannot provide legal aid before a Tribunal, other than International Protection Appeals Tribunal.  Examples of tribunals include the Labour Court or a Tenancy Tribunal established by the Residential Tenancies Board.  We cannot provide legal aid for cases in the District Court covered by the Small Claims Procedure (often informally referred to as the "small claims court")

Can I get 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 you 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 and 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.

Applying for Civil Legal Aid and Advice

Apply online

You can apply for civil legal aid and advice online -www.legalaidboard.ie if you live in the Republic of Ireland and have access to a PC/laptop with internet access.

Apply by post or in person

Alternatively you can apply by calling into, telephoning or writing to your nearest law centre.  You should fully complete the application form which is available on the website in a printable format and return it to your nearest law centre.

What do I need to apply?

  • A payslip/P60, social welfare receipt, or Notice of Assessment from Revenue/Audited Accounts
  • Details of any other income your receive (e.g. maintenance payments)
  • Details of your income tax, PRSI, and USC payments (these will be on your payslip or Notice of Assessment).
  • Details of your monthly mortgage/rent payments
  • Approximate values of all of your capital assets except the house you live in
  • Values of any savings you have
  • Outstanding amounts on any loans/debts that you have

Paying for Civil Legal Aid

Is it free?

Civil legal aid and advice is not free.  You will have to make a payment, called a contribution, when you first see a solicitor.  You will 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.

In most cases you will have to make a payment which we will 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 and 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.

If you are applying for legal aid to help with a claim for international protection in Ireland, you will only need to pay a contribution of €10.

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.  Your solicitor will explain this process to you.

Other Information

Can Legal Services be Withdrawn?

If you are provided with legal services, you are expected to be truthful in the information that you provide to the board and your solicitor, and to behave reasonably at all times in your dealings with the Board and you solicitor.  Giving false information or behaving unreasonably may result in the legal services provided to you being withdrawn and you may be liable for the full costs of providing you will legal services.  If the false information relates to your financial circumstances, we might ask you to pay more towards your legal aid, instead of withdrawing legal aid.

What happens when legal services have finished?

When legal services have finished, you will be told about this in writing.  Any original papers will be returned to you and your file will be closed.  After a number of years, closed files will be destroyed in accordance with Legal Aid Board policy.  You may reapply for legal services at any time for related or other matters.  If your are considering applying for legal services you may wish to read some of the Board's other information leaflets including about applying for legal services, and about financial eligibility criteria.

Further Information :

Head Office:

Legal Aid Board, Quay Street, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, V23 RD36

Lo Call No 0818 615 200

Tel: (066) 974 1035

Email:  info@legalaidboard.ie


10:00AM - 12.30PM  &  2.00PM - 4.00PM


find services icon

Find Services Near Me

Find Law Centres and Mediation services near you.

Am I Eligible?

Calculate if you are likely to qualify financially for civil legal aid.