Eligibility for family legal aid
Eligibility for family legal aid

The following Family practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Eligibility for family legal aid
  • Availability of legal aid
  • Domestic abuse requirements
  • Professional obligations
  • The need to establish eligibility
  • The consequences of failing to advise
  • Statutory charge
  • Information to be confirmed in writing

The availability of legal aid (formerly public funding) in relation to family proceedings was significantly reduced with effect from 1 April 2013, following the coming into force of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPOA 2012). This Practice Note sets out initial considerations when advising a client who may be eligible for legal aid. If acting for a party in proceedings where the other party is legal aided, see Practice Note: Implications of legal aid.

In NJDB v United Kingdom (App. No. 76760/12), the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was not incumbent on the state to seek, through the use of public funds, to ensure total equality of arms between an assisted person and the opposing party, as long as each side was afforded a reasonable opportunity to present their case under conditions that did not place them at a substantial disadvantage in relation to their adversary. In that case, the Scottish Legal Aid Board had refused the applicant legal aid to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court, which was maintained on review. However, the applicant's counsel and solicitors agreed to act pro bono and the Supreme Court waived its fees.

Availability of legal aid

As from 1 April 2013, legal aid is only available for a limited range of family cases, including:

  1. domestic violence cases under Part IV

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