We at James Watters & Co. Solicitors are on the panel of the Legal Aid. Contact us today on 018724717

Civil Legal Aid

Legal aid means representation by a solicitor or barrister in civil proceedings in the District, Circuit, High and Supreme Courts. This means that you have engaged the Board to act on your behalf in the proceedings, including sending correspondence on your behalf, drafting court documents, giving advice, representation in court and all the background preparatory work required. Generally, legal aid is provided by solicitors employed by the Board in its law centres. In certain family law matters, legal aid may be provided by a solicitor in private practice from a panel of solicitors which has been established by the Board. Legal aid is available in relation to most civil matters. However, certain cases are excluded from the scope of civil legal aid. In order to qualify for legal aid, you must pass both a means test and a merit test. If you qualify for legal aid, you will have to make some contributions to the overall costs of the proceedings except for child-care cases. The Rates below sets out the minimum and maximum contributions that may be made

There are minimum contributions that must be paid except in cases of extreme hardship. However, the contribution that you must make depends on your disposable income for legal advice and your disposable income and disposable capital for legal aid. There is no contribution required in child-care cases, however, you still need to come within the disposable income and capital thresholds.

Legal advice: a minimum contribution of €30 (was €10) must be paid where your disposable income is less than €11,500. If it is more, your contribution is one-tenth of the difference between €11,500 and your disposable income, up to a maximum of €150.

Legal aid: a minimum contribution of €130 (was €50) must be paid where your disposable income is less than €11,500. If it is more, your contribution is €130 plus one-quarter of the difference between €11,500 and your disposable income. You must pay an additional contribution if your disposable capital is more than €4,000 as follows:

  • Up to €54,000 your contribution is 2.5% of the difference between €4,000 and your disposable capital
  • Over €54,000 your contribution is €1,250 plus 5% of the difference between €54,000 and your disposable capital


Criminal Legal Aid

In Ireland if your constitutional right to legal representation applies and you don’t have the means to pay for legal representation, then the State (or Government) is obliged to provide that legal representation.

The Supreme Court has held that there is a need to put the defendant on equal terms with the prosecution. Without legal representation, an ordinary person without any experience of criminal law and court proceedings would be at a serious disadvantage up against the legal resources of the prosecution. It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court decided that it is only in certain circumstances that someone has a constitutional right to legal representation. There is no absolute constitutional right to it.

The main legal aid available to someone accused of a crime is the legal aid provided under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962. Criminal legal aid, unlike civil legal aid, is free. No financial contribution is necessary.

If a judge considers that it is appropriate that you are granted criminal legal aid, you will be issued a legal aid certificate. However, in some cases a legal aid certificate may not be available. In those cases you may be entitled to apply for free legal representation under another scheme such as the Criminal Assets Bureau’s Ad-Hoc Legal Aid Scheme or the Attorney General’s Scheme.

Legal aid for asylum seekers in Ireland

Free legal aid is available to asylum seekers in Ireland through the Refugee Legal Service to assist at all stages of the asylum process. This includes at the time of the initial application, first interview, appeals and advice on deportation. You should seek legal advice as early as possible in the process for asylum. The Refugee Legal Service is an office established by the Legal Aid Board to provide confidential and independent legal services to persons applying for asylum in Ireland. Legal aid and advice is also provided in appropriate cases on deportation orders. The Refugee Legal Service provides a confidential service to all persons who contact it