If you have ever needed the services of a solicitor, then you will understand just how complex the law is. What can seem a black and white case can often be a lot more confusing, so seeking the correct legal advice is essential. However, solicitors can also be expensive, and if you do not have the funds to pay, then legal aid is designed to cover the costs of legal advice and assistance. So if you need help with a legal matter, read on to find out about the legal aid system and how to find a solicitor.
What is Legal Aid?
In the UK, legal aid is funded by the government through The Legal Services Commission (LSC) to help citizens pay for legal assistance in either civil or criminal cases. This is based on the idea that everyone should be entitled to access to justice within the legal system. Legal aid covers a variety of issues ranging from being evicted from your home, or to being arrested. It also includes help in cases where a court appearance isn’t expected, such as with drawing up legal agreements between partners in the case of divorce or family disputes. So for a diverse array of legal problems, a legal aid solicitor will either advise you on how to proceed, speak on your behalf in court, or do both.
Who is Eligible?
If you are on a low income you should be entitled to legal aid for civil cases. Those on benefits such as income support will automatically qualify. However, if you are in work and if your gross monthly income is £2,657 or less, your solicitor will assess the amount of ‘disposable income’ you have left over to pay for legal help. Assets will normally be taken into account, so if you have money, investments or property you could sell to fund your case, you may not be eligible. In criminal cases there are two factors that must be taken into account to qualify for assistance. You must not only be on a low income, but your case must be considered serious. This normally means that it must be imprisonable offence. However, if you are rejected for legal aid, and do have to pay for a solicitor yourself, you can apply to have your costs refunded if you are found not guilty.
How does Legal Aid Work?
You will need to find a solicitor who takes legal aid cases in the first instance. Once the solicitor decides to take on your problem, and you have been assessed for financial eligibility, you will have to make an application for legal aid through your solicitor. The solicitor is then able to claim his costs back from the government.
How to Find a Legal Aid Solicitor.
Wherever you are in the UK, there should be a legal aid solicitor near you. For example, if you lived in Southampton, then an online search for ‘Legal Aid Southampton’ will help you locate a legal aid solicitor.
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Rob Rudd is a professional writer and writes on a range of subjects from finance to gardening.