The law which provides for civil legal aid services can be found in the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 (referred to throughout this document as “the Act”), which established the Legal Aid Board as an independent statutory body. The Board was originally established in 1980 on an administrative basis only. Further and more detailed provisions, particularly (but not exclusively) relating to the financial criteria, can be found in the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996, 2002, 2006, 2013, and 2016 (collectively the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2016 and referred to in this document as simply “The Regulations”).
It is important to note that we are required to act under the Act and Regulations at all times, we have no power to vary the requirements unless the Act and Regulations say that we can do so. This can arise, for example, when applicants ask why we cannot take electricity bills into account in the determination of financial eligibility, or if a client asks why their settlement has to be paid into the Legal Aid Fund. As a body established by law, we can only do what the law says we can do. That being said, the Oireachtas may amend the Act and the Minister can amend the Regulations.