It is important to note that in either case, the normal Application for Legal Services form should not be completed. Instead there is a separate application form which has been laid down by the European Commission. It is this form which must be completed if a person in another member State wishes to apply for legal services in Ireland or if an Irish or other EU citizen resident in Ireland wishes to apply for legal services in another member State. A copy of the form is available on our website.
While the financial eligibility criteria to be applied are in principle, those under the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2016, the Directive also provides that the financial eligibility criteria cannot be used to refuse an applicant under the Directive legal aid if they can prove that they are unable to pay the cost of the proceedings as a result of differences in the cost of living between their home country and Ireland.
Applications from the legal aid authority in the applicant’s home country will be financially assessed by Legal Services. If the applicant is financially eligible for legal services (under whichever criteria is applied), the application will be forwarded to a law centre. The applicant will be provided with legal services in the appropriate manner.
If a legal aid certificate is required, an application is made to Legal Services for a legal aid certificate. The merits criteria under the Act will be applied but it is important to note that the Directive has additional merits criteria which do not form part of the Act, namely:
- the importance of the individual case to the applicant
(in defamation only) the nature of the case when the applicant is claiming damage to his or her reputation
- but has suffered no material or financial loss or when the application concerns a claim arising directly out of the applicant's trade or self-employed profession.
Any applicant wishing to seek legal aid in another EU jurisdiction should complete the application form under the Directive. The form should be forwarded to Legal Services for transmission to the relevant receiving authority.