Assistance with legal aid costs

What is Legal Aid assistance?

Legal aid refers to all schemes that are available to assist people with legal representation or advice. The Scottish Legal Aid Board administers the schemes.

There are four types:

  • Advice and assistance
  • Civil legal assistance
  • Legal aid for Children’s Hearings and court hearings related to a Children’s Hearing
  • Criminal legal assistance
  • Assistance and advice

People on low incomes can get legal advice and help from a solicitor through the advice and assistance program.

Who can ask for Legal Aid assistance and advice?

Advice and assistance can be requested by anyone over 16 years of age. If they have sufficient understanding, a young person younger than 16 years old can apply for advice or assistance. If the child is very young or does not have sufficient understanding, their parent or guardian may apply for them.

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What is the scope of the scheme?

Unless it is covered under ABWOR, the scheme does not usually pay for representation in court or tribunal. However, a solicitor can help prepare your case and negotiate settlements.

The scheme also covers general career advice regarding legal issues, writing letters and negotiating. An advocate’s opinion is also available.

The scheme covers Legal Aid problems

  • Advice and assistance includes advice on general legal issues, as well as advice on:
  • Divorce, dissolution of civil partnership, maintenance, or disputes about children
  • Adoptions contested
  • Preparing for tribunals, such as unfair dismissal or social security tribunals
  • Preparation for criminal proceedings

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Accident claims: Including giving advice, preparing an injury case, getting medical reports, and submitting them to the court.

A solicitor can help you with a car diagnostic interview and other legal work if your legal problem is not listed on the case category list. This will cost you no more than PS45. If the solicitor finds a serious issue in your case, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance and advice. The Appendix to this document will provide details on what case categories are available.

What amount of work is covered by this scheme?

The solicitor can only do a small amount of work with the full advice and assistance program.

A solicitor can request an extension to complete work if the limit on the work exceeds the set limits. The extension must be granted before the solicitor can continue to work on the case. If the extension is denied, you can decide if you want to pay for additional work.

A solicitor cannot represent you in court or before a tribunal under the advice & assistance scheme. This is except in limited circumstances such as a pre-hearing to hear a child’s case and in cases involving disability discrimination in school provision, which are covered by Assistance by Way of Representation. When ABWOR is available, your solicitor can advise you.

If the matter cannot be resolved by court proceedings and the case is not covered by ABWOR the solicitor might suggest you apply for civil or criminal legal assistance (see under heading Criminal legal aid lawyer).

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