The Scottish Legal Aid Board check your financial situation and the circumstances of your case before granting legal aid. We can’t advise if you are eligible for legal aid and you should visit the Scottish Legal Aid Board’s website or call them on 0845 788 8686. There’s a calculator tool on their website which can give you a rough estimate on whether you’re financially eligible. If you receive a passported benefit, for instance income-based jobseekers’ allowance, then you should automatically pass the financial test. For certain types of criminal case, including any advice provided at a police station, legal aid is automatically available for those financially eligible.
A legal aid solicitor will help you to apply and you can find details of legal aid firms in your area from our Find a Solicitor tool. You’ll need to be able to prove your income and any money you have in bank or savings accounts. Ideally, bring along this documentation to your first appointment.
The Society's specialist accreditation scheme offers recognition of solicitors who develop specialist knowledge during their careers.
Our Find A Solicitor tool allows you to search for accredited specialists in particular fields. However, some accredited specialists will not do legal aid work. If you click on the firm where the solicitor works , you can see whether the firm does legal aid. If so, or even if not, it’s worth giving them a call and explaining your case to see if they can help in any way.
If you’re in receipt of legal aid, you won’t be asked to pay a private fee by the solicitor. Legal aid, however, may not pay your costs in full. For certain types of civil case, you may have to pay a contribution. These are usually very small for advice under legal aid, but can be larger for court work under legal aid. If you recover or gain money or assets through a successful court case, the Scottish Legal Aid Board will recover the costs of legal aid from these – a process called “clawback”. You can find out more details about these from the Scottish Legal Aid Board and whether you would be likely to pay a contribution.
It’s possible to transfer lawyers if you receive legal aid. However, the Scottish Legal Aid Board will consider whether it’s reasonable in the circumstances to allow that transfer to take place. The Scottish Legal Aid Board will assess your circumstances and if it’s reasonable to transfer to another legal aid solicitor, they will approve this. One example would be if you’ve moved to another part of the country.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau offers advice on a range of topics and there is also a guide to your rights on the Citizens Advice Scotland website. Other advice organisations like Shelter for housing issues, also offer valuable help. The clerks’ office at your local Sheriff Court can give you any court forms required.