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District Court private family law matters and appeals

As noted above, applications for civil legal aid for District Court private family law matters (and appeals to the Circuit Court) are made to the managing solicitor or another person in the law centre to whom the managing solicitor has delegated responsibility.  

The “reduced merits” test applies to all of these applications save an application for spousal maintenance alone, which is rare.

Grant the application if (all of the below factors must be present):

  • The staff member making the application recommended a grant
  • You are satisfied that the case falls within the type of cases for which legal aid can be granted at law centre level (see earlier in this part)
  • The applicant is financially eligible
  • None of the reasons below to refer the application to Legal Services apply.

Refer the application to Legal Services if (at least one of the below factors are present):

  • The solicitor making the application recommended a refusal
  • The applicant previously had a legal aid certificate revoked or terminated for any reason other than change of circumstances
  • The applicant’s contribution, as calculated before the cap was applied, was substantially in excess of €417 (As a guideline, the contribution should have been calculated at €1,000 minimum prior to capping).
  • Any additional services are being sought.

All applications which include a request for additional services should be referred to Legal Services

At Legal Services level, grant the application if:

  • The application is for a domestic violence remedy or to defend an application for a domestic violence remedy, unless there are extremely strong reasons relating to the applicant’s previous behaviour as to why such an application should not be granted.
  • For any other application, at least one of the factors for refusal do not apply.

At Legal Services level, consider refusing the application if:

  • The applicant previously had a legal aid certificate revoked or terminated for any reason other than change of circumstances [Refuse under s28(4)(b)]
  • The application is for spousal maintenance alone and in the solicitor’s opinion there is no prospect of success in the application. [Refuse having regard to s24(b) and s28(2)(c), and (e)].
  • The application is to appeal an application for spousal maintenance alone and the District Court refused the original application [Refuse having regard to s24(b) and s28(2)(c), and (e)].