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Court Costs and Legal Aid

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 28 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Legal Aid No-win No-fee The Scottish

Going to court can be expensive. The law recognises that the high cost of court cases could mean that many people are not able to get the justice they may deserve. To ensure that everyone has an equal right to legal representation, various financial schemes have been set up to help those people that don't have the money to go to court themselves.

Legal Aid

If you can't afford the costs of going to court, you can apply to receive legal aid. The money you could get can be used to help with a range of civil court cases. You can apply for legal aid depending on:

  • How much you earn and how much money you have in assets such as your home or other property. You will normally not be eligible for legal aid if you have over £8,000 in assets, or earned over £2,435 as your gross income (before tax) last month.
  • What the chances are of you winning the case.
  • What type of case you are taking to court.

You can use an online legal aid calculator to work out how much money you might get if you applied for help. The legal aid calculator is available: on the government website.

Legal aid will usually only pay for:

  • The cost of the solicitor who will represent you in court.
  • Any initial help and advice you have been given about your case.
  • The cost of mediation in a family dispute.

If you are under 18 years of age you can apply for legal aid, but a person who is over 18 years old will have to apply for you. This is also the case if someone under the age of 16 wants legal aid. Their parent or guardian is the only people who can apply for legal aid on their behalf.

You can't receive legal aid for the following court cases:

  • If you are claiming asylum.
  • Cases involving businesses or partnerships.
  • Immigration, land and employment tribunals.
  • Personal injury claims.
  • Conveyancing (the buying and selling of a house).
  • Trust law.
  • Boundary disputes.
  • Libel or deformation of character.
  • Making a will.

Legal aid will in most cases pay for the vast majority of the court costs you will have. However, there may be cases where you do have to pay something towards your court case. The amount you may have to pay will be determined when your application for legal aid was processed.

You may find you have to pay some of your monthly income towards your legal costs. If your case results in you making a financial gain, you may have to use some of this money to replay a percentage of your legal aid. This is called the 'statutory charge'. You may even be asked to pay a lump sum at the end of your case.

Legal aid in Scotland and Northern Ireland

If you live in either Scotland or Northern Ireland you can still apply for legal aid, but you must do so through your own schemes.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board
Telephone: 0131 226 7061
Website: www.slab.org.uk

The Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission
Telephone: 028 9040 8888
Website: www.nilsc.org.uk

No Win No Fee

In some cases you may not qualify for legal aid. If you don't this doesn't necessarily mean you can't go to court. You could use a no-win, no-fee services that are available across the UK. It is important that you take legal advice before using these services so you understand what they are offering.

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[Add a Comment]
Hells - Your Question:
I have been separated from my husband 2 years gone February. I'm wanting a divorce but I'm unable to pay the costs as I'm unemployed at present. would I be able to recover legal aid to cover all the cost of the divorce.

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which should help answer your question.
CourtroomAdvice - 1-Jun-18 @ 2:51 PM
I have been separated from my husband 2 years gone February. I'm wanting a divorce but I'm unable to pay the costs as I'm unemployed at present.. would I be able to recover legal aid to cover all the cost of the divorce..
Hells - 28-May-18 @ 6:52 PM
My ex husband who I’m separated from has taken me to court over our daughters.They had told him about an occasion when my sister visited from Australia they didn’t see him and two other dates when they where Ill and off school. I don’t have any contact with him because he is aggressive and rude to me. The other time when it was the girls birthday he had them the weekend and it was the girls birthday on the Monday. No arrangements of him seeing them had been made so I had no idea. He now wants me to pay the legal fees of £1000. I struggle financially and don’t have any savings. I have not turned up in court and won’t the next time due to working. Will I have to pay his legal fees?
Jayne - 30-Mar-18 @ 6:03 PM
I have recently been to a children's safeguarding conference where I found out the mother of my son and grandmother have been acussing my son and his sister of lying at school about a abusive partner . I heard how both of the children spoke of abuse and it was covered up and allowed to go on . I gave PR and have a contact order she's broken.Can you give me some advise on what to do as social services are not really doing anything and I want my son in a safe environment? Many thanks
Mixxy - 1-Mar-18 @ 9:51 PM
Hi I am a foreign national with temporary admission to the U.K. (no immigration status) waiting the outcome of my application at the home Office, My ex partner has taken me to court for an alleged criminal damage to her car, which I was found guilty of in the magistrates court. Do I have to pay for the costs of solicitors? It has been forwarded to crown court, and do I have to pay if I want to appeal the conviction??
Femz - 20-Feb-18 @ 12:26 PM
Rr - Your Question:
Ex is taking me to court for custody he's not on bc I can't afford a lawyer as single mum on benefits.is there any help.out there for me please

Our Response:
Many parties, both fathers and mothers have had no choice other than to become litigants in person after the withdrawal of public funding for the majority of private law children applications. The emphasis currently is to keep parents out of the courts and, since the Family Justice Review in 2011, the Government has been focusing on funding dispute resolution services such as mediation. Mediation is usually requested by the courts prior to any court application as a way of encouraging parents to try to come to a solution mutually. While the courts prefer parents to negotiate between them with regards to contact and access, sometimes parents are not in agreement, in such cases it can be passed to the court to decide. As the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question, the court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. If the parent is representing themselves in court, then litigants in person must be treated equally before the law and have equal access to justice. Judges have a duty to ensure a fair trial by giving them due assistance to achieve this. Sometimes parties act alone and sometimes they can have the; 'right to reasonable assistance' of a McKenzie Friend. You can see more via the link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 4-Jan-18 @ 9:54 AM
Ex is taking me to court for custody he's not on bc I can't afford a lawyer as single mum on benefits..is there any help.out there for me please
Rr - 3-Jan-18 @ 2:14 PM
@Tea - no, but if it goes to court, she could get landed with the court costs if she doesn't comply. It depends upon whether she is actually entitled to any financial settlement i.e if she helped towards a deposit or not, or put any money into the house. Just because she signed an agreement, where that agreement isn't legal it means she can at any point change her mind. If she is just being generally awkward or bullish then the court might slap the costs on her. The only problem is, it will cost either way if the matter ends up in court. Hopefully...your solicitor has laid out the implications of what might happen if she doesn't respond.
AidD - 5-Oct-17 @ 10:56 AM
5 years ago I got a mortgage with my ex,she left after 14months and signed a legal agreement to transfer her legal estate in return of me drawing up a new mortgage in my name and freeing her of the debht...as I was changing from imployed to self imployed the bank requested 3years of books (proof of income) Recently I have drawn up and payed for the new mortgage at her request this April (as she is trying to declare bankrupsy and needs to come off) but she is refusing to sign over the deeds without a financial agreement...? Therefor folding on the agreement signed by her in 2013 when she left . I am paying a solicitor to deal with the matter and write a final letter (as she has ignored the transfer of estate doc sent prior by the mortgage solicitor) Can I sue her for unnesisary spendature on my behalf as this is her creation and request yet folding on the agreement?
Tea - 4-Oct-17 @ 1:20 PM
Losa - Your Question:
After mediation failed my husband has now applied to the court for joint custody of our 13 yr old daughter.I Am single mom and cannot afford a solicitor.Can I get legal aid?

Our Response:
Unless there has been confirmed domestic violence involved, you would not be able to get Legal Aid. Legal Aid is incredibly rare these days as has all but been ablolished. The aim now is to direct parties in private law cases to mediation rather than funding them to proceed to court. Court is now seen as a last resort where all other methods through mediation have failed. Despite all the funding for mediation however, there is no guarantee that it will work. So if a case does proceed to court, you can self-litigate, if you cannot afford legal representation. Litigants in person must be treated equally before the law and have equal access to justice. Judges have a duty to ensure a fair trial by giving them due assistance to achieve this.
CourtroomAdvice - 2-Oct-17 @ 3:01 PM
After mediation failed my husband has now applied to the court for joint custody of our 13 yr old daughter. I Am single mom and cannot afford a solicitor.Can I get legal aid?
Losa - 30-Sep-17 @ 10:06 PM
Hi, I have just received a letter from legal aid 5 years after going to court stating I owe a contribution. My question is: how long do they have to actually send an invoice before it surely becomes a written off debt?
Paul w - 27-Apr-17 @ 4:25 PM
My childrens dad has died, he has property in France but they need a solicitor to sort out inheritance. My daughter is 18 and my son is 17 both in full time education can they get legal aid for this
Debs - 21-Apr-17 @ 9:25 PM
Debbie - Your Question:
I have been divorced for a number of years now, had a joint mortgage with my ex husband.6 years ago I agreed a settlement figure (out of court)and to date I have not recieved a penny.we have 18 year old twins.he has been living in (our) marital home with his partner for over 2 years.they are both financially stable and I'm struggling on benefits.i don't even know if I am entitled to anything anymore.frustrated #understatement/shortstraw

Our Response:
You may be able to force your ex to sell the property (if it is co-owned). You would have to seek legal advice regarding this.
CourtroomAdvice - 28-Mar-17 @ 12:51 PM
I have been divorced for a number of years now, had a joint mortgage with my ex husband..6 years ago I agreed a settlement figure (out of court)and to date i have not recieved a penny..we have 18 year old twins...he has been living in (our) marital home with his partner for over 2 years...they are both financially stable and I'm struggling on benefits...i don't even know if I am entitled to anything anymore..frustrated #understatement/shortstraw
Debbie - 27-Mar-17 @ 6:43 PM
I didn't get legal aid cos I had savings. Judge ordered costs be paid on my acquittal last year. Central Funds have paid my travel and accommodation costs but none of my legal fees. Should I be pressing for these?
Rich - 15-Feb-17 @ 5:30 PM
My ex want to take me court he has restraining order so he cant contact me now i have his family verbual abusing me.. what right does he have if his name not on his birth certificate
cb - 3-Feb-17 @ 11:47 PM
Can anyone advise. My solicitor told me I was refused legal aid at start of family court case. I applied again when made redundant. Was told I was refused again. At end of court case I paid my solicitor and all court fees approx £16000. I then get a letter today, few years after case has finished, the letter is from legal aid saying my certificate has just been cancelled on 22nd dec 2016. On ringing them they tell me I was entitled to legal aid the whole way through the court case. What do I do to get my money back as my solicitor has made an error and given me wrong information. Solicitor has taken all that money from me and now I'm told I shouldn't of hadto pay it . Help needed please
debs - 29-Dec-16 @ 3:11 PM
My ex husband abused me for six years in court up to three days per week. Child welfare hearings and a criminal conviction. What is an estimate price he will pay back as legal aid are clawing it all back
Becky - 13-Dec-16 @ 3:02 PM
Kev - Your Question:
I have been charged 282 quid from legal aid for a lawyer who didn't help me and sent me countless letters most were pointless. I don't feel I owe nothing as I received no help and feel ripped off!!! How can I fight this?

Our Response:
If you receive a summary bill from your solicitor, you may ask for a bill containing detailed items within three months. If you disagree with the bill you have received, and you think the charges are unfair, then you can complain via the Law Society, please see link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 15-Nov-16 @ 11:13 AM
I have been charged 282 quid from legal aid for a lawyer who didn't help me and sent me countless letters most were pointless. I don't feel I owe nothing as I received no help and feel ripped off!!! How can I fight this?
Kev - 14-Nov-16 @ 2:11 PM
My son pays every week for his daughter but now his ex wont let him see her he used 2 hav her every weekend his ex is always stopping and starting when something doesnt go her way but this time its been 3 weeks and hes getting really down about it he doesnt earn much what can hedo 2 see his little girl
Caroline walker - 28-Oct-16 @ 10:03 PM
Hi do you know if children's savings are taken into account when applying for legal aid
ki - 11-Oct-16 @ 5:14 PM
3 years of domestic abuse. Fled the former marital home with very young child in tow. 4 years in family courts facing application after application from my ex for unsupervised contact, residence order, my mental health assessment, psychological assessments. Total cost of legal representation for myself to secure my safety and that of my very young child from this evil monster - £ 80,000. Never took a break, been Working full time to pay it all back. £50k paid off, £30k left to go. We are safe and away from this madman but I live in financial hell. The legacy of financial abuse he meted out in the courts over 4 very long and terrifying years.
Survivor - 6-Oct-16 @ 10:04 PM
Hi there I need help with this one I was told that I wasn't eligible for legal aid although I still can't afford it and talking to the mothers of my children is impossible is there anything else that I can do thanks
Paul - 3-Oct-16 @ 3:32 PM
Hi there I have recently been told I am not eligible for legal aid although I still can't afford it and talking to the mothers of my children is impossible I dnt know what to do now can anyone help me thanks
Paul - 3-Oct-16 @ 3:28 PM
I am so worried! My son lives with his mother and I only see him a couple of hours at the weekend! He as been missing school which I was asked to attend a meeting about,I didn't go because I was working. The second meeting I was present and it was productive,I thought it was all done with,but I've got a summons to attend court. I am working from 6.30 to 5.30 at night,I pay his maintenance money each week and I've got this nasty feeling I'm going to prison for something that's out of my control,I'm so worried about this and don't now what to do,plead guilty or not guilty
MJB - 23-Sep-16 @ 8:12 PM
Hello, I went to a solicitor to represent me in a criminal case that i committed, i spoke to them twice in their office, one of them came to the police station with me for bail conditions then came to court for one appearance where i was fined and given a community order, this ended the case, there was no legal aid due to my wages, they are now trying to bill me for £1000 for their services, is this a fair price or I am i getting ripped of?
B - 26-Aug-16 @ 12:13 PM
I have left my abusive ex but have no money for a solicitor to get a divorce or financial settlement. I called civil legal advice but they said because my name is also on the mortgage I can't get legal aid. Is this true if the only assets I have are tied up with the person I am trying to divorce? He has a solicitor and money. I have no money, having left work to raise our kids and he never supported me going back to work. I need to protect my kids future but with no money, what do I do?
Cheryl - 2-Jul-16 @ 12:07 PM
I have recieved a legal aid invoice after my ex took me to court for seeing his children however I had always agreed he Seen them and I was the one that went to a solicitor to get a perminant routine in place for them as he wouldn't turn up on days he was ment to before. I offered mediation several times through the solicitor he refused and wanted to take me straight to court after applying to legal aid 3 times he got it and went on and got the court case. The court case was very brief as everything he had asked for I was more than willing to give how ever he prolonged to give dates and times for his holidays and refused to agree to the Christmas agreement which was more than fair until the court date came. The court date can and he then agree fed before we went into the room the dates for his holidays and also accepted the terms I put forward for Christmas Day with me compromising with him. How ever he refuses mediation on so many occasion which would of avoided court. He doesn't pay for his children hasn't done for over a year Csa have hopefully caught up with this time I'll be surprised if they have. He then gets a court case and I have to pay the fees of £2054.00 being a single parent with two girls working a part time job. How is this fair?!? Is there anyways of not being elegible to pay these fees??as I tried to avoid court and expense of it at all costs by offering mediation and trying to agree everything he wanted in his court action before the date I am struggling to see how this is justice with a legal system and with a difficult ex that I am left to defend on my own financially and he gets to put me in more debt deliberately.
L89 - 1-Jul-16 @ 3:56 PM
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