Magistrates Court

Legal aid information and eligibility in Magistrates Court proceedings.

Legal Aid is available by applying to the Legal Aid Agency to cover your case in the Magistrates Court. The decision to award Legal Aid is made on the basis of both the details of your case (called the interests of justice test) and the financial information you provide (called the means test). It is, therefore, important that when you are completing the Forms or providing information to us that you do this accurately.  Where necessary you will also need to provide evidence to support the information you provide. If you do not tell the truth when completing your Legal Aid Application about your assets, income and expenditure, you could be prosecuted. If your application meets the criteria set by the Legal Aid Agency, you will be granted a legal representation order. We are happy to assist you in completing the forms.

Providing the interests of justice test is passed and the following income applies to you below then you will automatically qualify for Legal Aid:

  • You are under 18 when making the application;
  • You are in receipt of Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Guaranteed State Pension Credit or Income Related Employment Support Allowance.  You will need to provide your National Insurance Number so that the Legal Aid Agency can check you are in receipt of the qualifying benefit.

In all other circumstances, your finances will be assessed to decide whether you are eligible for Legal Aid. Your annual household income and family circumstances will be taken into account.

  • If your annual household income is £12,475 or less, you will be eligible for Legal Aid.
  • If your annual household income is £22,325, or more, you are not eligible for Legal Aid.
  • If your annual household income is more than £12,475 but less than £22,325, the Legal Aid Agency will then look at your disposable income. They take in to account an allowance for your partner, children, housing costs and council tax and a standard amount is allowed for some bills such as gas or electricity. Any debts are not taken into account in this assessment.
  • If you are left with £3,398 or less per year (£283.17 or less a month), you will get Legal Aid.
  • If your disposable income is more than £3,398 a year (£283.17 a month), you are not eligible to receive Legal Aid.

The assessment of your income makes an allowance for a partner or any children that you have living with you, so it is important that you include details of these on the Forms. 

If Legal Aid is refused, you will have to pay for your legal costs if you want to be represented. We have set out our private rates in this information sheet or a private rate can be agreed with the solicitor who has conduct of your case.   If you do not think you can afford to pay privately, or you think a mistake has been made you can ask for a review of the Legal Aid assessment to be made or a Hardship application can be made. Any decision to refuse Legal Aid on the basis of your means is out of our control.

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