Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Getting legal aid and free legal advice in Scotland

You could get free legal advice or funding for all or some of your legal fees if you cannot afford them. Legal advice could help solve housing problems including:

  • eviction

  • rent arrears

  • repairs

  • repossession

  • discrimination

Free legal advice

In-court advice

Some sheriff courts offer free legal advice on housing problems. It could resolve your problem before court action starts.

To find out if in-court advice is available in your area, contact your local court or visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Law centres

Law centres offer cheaper or free legal help to people who might find it difficult to get legal advice.

Many offer drop-in services and appointments where you can informally discuss your housing problem.

If you need further legal help with your housing problem, legal aid could help pay towards the cost of your solicitor’s fees.

There are law centres across Scotland, including:

Legal aid: paying for a solicitor

Legal aid can help pay legal costs if you cannot afford them. You'll need to show you cannot afford legal help without it from your income and savings.

Legal aid might not cover all of your costs. If you need to pay towards the cost or pay any money back later, your solicitor will explain what you have to pay and why.

Most housing legal issues are civil cases. The types of legal aid funding available for civil cases are called:

  • advice and assistance

  • civil legal aid

For other legal issues, the Scottish Government has information on children’s hearings and criminal cases.

Advice and assistance

Advice and assistance legal aid can help pay for the work your solicitor does to keep your case out of court, including:

  • advice from your solicitor

  • telephone calls

  • meetings

The Scottish Government has more information on advice and assistance.

Civil legal aid

If your case is likely to go to court, you will usually need to apply for civil legal aid. This funding can help pay for all the legal preparation work as well as your solicitor representing you in court.

The Scottish Government has more information on civil legal aid.

Applying for legal aid in Scotland

You can only apply for legal aid through a solicitor.

Find a legal aid solicitor

Visit a law centre or use the Scottish Legal Aid Board’s tool to find a civil solicitor.

You’re likely to get legal aid if you can show that you cannot afford to pay for legal help.

You can check if you qualify for legal aid on Scottish Legal Aid Board’s eligibility tool. However, it’s always best to confirm your eligibility with your solicitor.

The legal aid you apply for depends on the help you need. Your solicitor will tell you what funding to apply for and help you with the application process.

If you pay for legal advice yourself

Solicitors must provide you with a cost estimate of the work they’ll do for you. You have the right to ask for an updated estimate as your case progresses.

There could be extra costs, for example, if your case is lost you might have to pay your opponent's legal fees and expenses. Ask your solicitor about any costs that might come up.

Usually, you will not have to pay your full fee at once. If you're concerned about your bill, it might be possible to pay in instalments.

If your bill is significantly higher than the estimate you were given, you can complain about your solicitor. It might be possible to have your bill reduced.

You can find guidance on complaining about a solicitor on the Citizen's Advice website.

Last updated: 11 March 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England