It is known that going to court can be very expensive. Court fees can build up, especially if the case is lengthy. For some people, court is necessary and the only option available, however the fees involved make it almost impossible. These people may be eligible for legal aid, which can help towards court costs.
Legal aid is a financial scheme set up through the government by the legal services commission. There are many areas in which legal aid can help, including:
- Legal help
- Help at court
- Family help
- Family mediation
- Legal representation
- Controlled legal representation
- Legal aid for criminal cases
If someone is eligible for legal aid, the scheme will cover areas such as:
- The cost of a solicitor that can represent them in court
- Initial legal help and advice
- The cost of mediation in a family dispute
There are some situations where legal aid cannot be given. Examples of this would be:
- If asylum is being claimed
- Cases involving businesses and partnerships
- Immigration, land and employment
- Personal injury claims
- Conveyance issues
- Boundary disputes
- Trust law
- Libel or defamation
- Making a will
In order to receive legal aid at a magistrates’ court, certain financial conditions need to be met. One can only get legal help in court if it has been deemed reasonable and necessary by the courts.
Legal aid for criminals
Legal aid for criminals is organised by a separate organisation called the Criminal Defence Service.
A person being detained in a police station that is facing a charge is entitled to free legal advice at first. The legal adviser at the initial meeting can decipher whether the person in question is eligible for legal aid. If someone being charged at a police station has their own solicitor, they may use them. If that solicitor works with the criminal defence service then the accused will not have to pay for that service.
If someone has not yet been charged, they still may be eligible for legal aid. This is what is known as advice and assistance and may involve a solicitor giving general advice or to get help from a barrister. This kind of help can be available if someone is receiving:
- Income support
- Income related employment
- Support allowance
- Pension credit
- Low income