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Applying for legal aid

This page tells you how to apply for help with your legal costs from the Scottish Legal Aid Board including what information you'll have to provide.

What kind of help can I apply for?

If you've got a housing problem, you're most likely to be applying for 'civil legal assistance'. This type of funding is made up of:

  • advice and assistance, and
  • civil legal aid.

Read our page on what legal aid covers for more information on these .

When should I apply for legal aid?

Your solicitor can tell you whether you need to apply for advice and assistance, or civil legal aid.

If you qualify for advice and assistance your solicitor will usually be able to start to help you the first time you go to see them.

If your case is going to court and you want to apply for civil legal aid, you will have to apply to the Scottish Legal Aid Board , and complete a separate application form. Your solicitor will tell you when you need to do this and go over the necessary paperwork. You must give them all the information they ask for.

What information do i need to provide?

You will need to provide information about both your income and your assets (and those of your partner) to complete the advice and assistance form, including:

  • your payslips (if you have a job)
  • pension or benefits books
  • bank statements
  • your National Insurance number
  • savings accounts statements.

If you are married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner, your solicitor will need to see the same information for them as well, unless:

  • you are separated
  • they are the reason you're getting legal advice
  • it would be unfair or too difficult to get the information.

If you are applying for civil legal aid, you'll have to complete and sign a financial eligibility form. You also have to send the Scottish Legal Aid Board evidence of the information you state on the form. Your solicitor will fill in a form giving details about the case, and you'll also have to sign this.

You must give full and accurate information about yourself, your financial situation and your case when applying for any funding from the Scottish Legal Aid Board. It's a criminal offence to lie or give false information.

What will happen to my application?

The Scottish Legal Aid Board will process your application and decide that you qualify for legal aid if:

  • you are financially eligible
  • you have a legal basis or 'probable cause' for your case
  • it's reasonable for you to receive legal aid (for example, it may not be reasonable to grant legal aid if your case will cost much more than it is worth, or it looks unlikely that you will succeed)
  • you can't get financial help from anyone else, such as a trade union or insurance company.

What happens if my application is refused?

If your application for legal aid is refused the Scottish Legal Aid Board will write telling you and your solicitor why. Your solicitor can ask the Scottish Legal Aid Board to look at your application again. This usually has to be done within 15 days of the date of the original refusal letter.

If the Scottish Legal Aid Board still refuses your application after this, you might be able to apply for a judicial review of the decision, although this will only happen in a few cases.

Alternatively, you can ask your solicitor to submit a new application on your behalf, If your circumstances have changed (for example, if you lose your job and have less income).

Your solicitor will be able to advise you on what to do in your situation.

Objections to my legal aid application

An opponent can either object to your application or the actual granting of legal aid. This is because, if you do recieve legal aid, it could affect your opponent - for example, if you win the case, the court may order them to pay your costs.

When you apply for legal aid, the Scottish Legal Aid Board  will normally send a form to your opponent telling them that you have done so. If your opponent has objections that they want the Scottish Legal Aid Board to take into account before deciding on the application, they can object, in writing, within 14 days of the date that Scottish Legal Aid Board  told them about your application. If your opponent lives outside the UK, they have 28 days in which to object.

Any objections received by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, that may influence their decision on your legal aid application, will be discussed with you and your solicitor. So it is very important that you give full and accurate information to both your solicitor and the Scottish Legal Aid Board at all times.

Your opponent can object at any time after you apply, even if you've already been granted legal aid. However, they have to provide the Scottish Legal Aid Board with new information about you or the case - they can't just object to be difficult.

Where can I find out more?

You can get a very useful Scottish Legal Aid Board guide to civil legal aid. Your solicitor will give you a copy of this before you apply for civil legal aid.

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