Legal aid is a form of financial assistance that the UK government provides its citizens in terms of receiving the best legal representation. The process, through is not exclusively applicable in the UK context only, gets special appreciation to jurists from all over the world due to clarity of the process, systematic approach and celebration of the jurisprudential principles. The three basic purposes that legal aid helps needy citizens to attain are
- Fair trial
- The right to counsel, and
- Equality before the law
Though any UK citizen, over 18 years of age, is eligible to apply for legal aid, it is entirely upon the LSC (the Legal Services Commission) to decide whether the respective applicant should be receiving the assistance or not. In addition, there are a few criteria that if fulfilled, a person will automatically qualify for receiving free legal aid. Conditions that the list includes are:
- The applicant should be below 18 years of age
- He/she should be receiving income support
- He/she should be receiving the job seeker’s allowance, based on the income
- He/she is surviving on the state pension credit
- He/she is receiving financial support allowance and nature of the employment is entirely income related
However, prior to become eligible for free legal aid from the government, case of the applicant should pass the test of Interests of Justice.
Application for the legal aid claim can be submitted at the official site of the Legal Services Commission. An applicant may receive benefits like:
- Claim submission within purview of fee schemes for litigators and advocates
- Availability of eForms that will allow you to submit claims electronically
- Claim submission, based on CDS 4, CDS5 and CDS7 forms
- Civil claims in contexts of payment, account payment and Family Graduated Fees
- Claim for legal aid to address problems associated with controlled work claims, exceptional situations and medication related problems and non-profit issues
Types of Cases in which Legal Aid can be received:
People under need may apply for legal aid and receive it in order to receive proper legal representation for addressing a situation. There are several types of civil legal problems, except car injury and personal injury claims. Quite recently, application and granting legal aid has become quite a commonplace practice in the field of medical negligence claims. Apart from civil cases, in criminal incidents also the aggrieved parties may receive legal aid in order to access justice.
How does your eligibility for legal aid get tested?
- Depending on the application and the case detail you will provide, the investigation committee will run the ‘cost/benefit test’ and ‘means test’. The LSC needs to be convinced that the cost of legal proceeding would not exceed the return that you may be possibly awarded with by a court of law.
- Upon submission of your financial details, the investigating committee needs to be convinced that is not possible for the applicant to continue access to justice due to lack of financial resource
- The cost of the case should be exceeding £10,000