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FAQs

Legal advice is where we provide advice to you on your problem. We may also write letters or conduct negotiations on your behalf in order to settle your dispute amicably. If we cannot settle your dispute and you need to go to court, legal aid provides representation in Court. We can provide legal aid in all of the civil courts, but we cannot provide legal aid in any administrative tribunal other than the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT).

If your case does not automatically qualify for legal aid, we must undertake a means test of your financial circumstances to see if you qualify for our services. To get civil legal aid and advice you will need to have an annual disposable income of less than €18,000 and disposable assets of less than €100,000.  In both cases, we apply certain allowances when calculating these. We do not include the house you live in when calculating your assets.

If you need to go to Court, we will look at the merits of the case before we can allow a solicitor or barrister to represent you in Court.

Civil legal aid and advice usually is not free. You will have to make a payment, called a contribution, when you first see a solicitor. You will have to make a further payment if we agree to represent you in Court. There are a small number of cases where there is no contribution.

Sometimes, at the end of the case, you might have to pay back the cost of your legal aid, if you gain or keep money or property as a result of your case.

If you need to go to Court, we will look at the merits of the case before we can allow a solicitor or barrister to represent you in Court.

We consider whether an average person (not a wealthy person) would be willing to go to Court if they were paying for it with their own money. We also consider if a solicitor or a barrister acting reasonably would recommend that you go to court, knowing you were paying for it yourself and based on the facts of your case.

We may examine other factors such as:

  • Do you have grounds for taking the case, or defending the case the other person is taking against you?
  • Is it the best way of solving your dispute?
  • Would you be likely to win your case?
  • The cost to the taxpayer against the benefit you might receive if you win.


Where the welfare of a child is at stake – for example, in cases where the State is trying to take your children into care, or a dispute over who has custody of a child – we will not take into account whether or not you would be likely to win the case or a cost/benefit analysis.

Your solicitor will discuss the merits test with you, if you need to go to Court.

We have thirty offices, called law centres, around the country where you can apply for civil legal aid and advice. After you apply you might have to wait for an appointment. If your case is in the District Court that sits at Dolphin House, in East Essex Street, Dublin D02 RR76, you can apply for legal aid at our office there.

You can download the application form and return it to any of our law centres or you can apply on-line. There is a different application form if you want to apply for civil legal aid and advice for assistance with making an application for asylum.

If you’re living in another EU member state (including Northern Ireland) and want to apply for civil legal aid in Ireland, you will need to fill out the EU legal aid application form

If your case is urgent, it is possible to get an early appointment. The Board gives priority to certain cases, including cases concerned with:

  • child abduction;
  • childcare;
  • domestic violence;
  • statutory time limits, where the time for issuing proceedings may expire;
  • rape / sexual assault cases where the issue of prior sexual history is being raised in a criminal case; and
  • cases where one spouse may seek to take matrimonial proceedings in another country.


Your local law centre will advise you if your case is one that gets a priority service from the Board.

We have thirty three offices, called law centres, around the country where you can apply for civil legal aid and advice. After you apply you might have to wait for an appointment. If your case is in the District Court that sits at Dolphin House, in East Essex Street, Dublin D02 RR76, you can apply for legal aid at our office there.

Civil legal aid and advice does not cover when you have been charged with a criminal offence. You can ask the judge for legal aid on the first day your case is in court. You can also contact the Court Clerk/Registrar of the court where you are due to appear. 

There are some civil matters that we cannot provide legal aid in, such as defamation (formerly known as libel and slander), most property disputes and alcohol licencing applications. Even then there are some exceptions. You may wish to speak to a member of staff in our law centres if you are unsure that civil legal aid will cover your problem.

If you live in another member state of the European Union (including Northern Ireland, but not Denmark) and want to apply for legal aid in Ireland, you should complete the EU legal aid application form.

You can return the application form to the legal aid authority in your home country or to us. We will make the decision on whether or not you can get legal aid in Ireland - the only thing the legal aid authority in your home country will do is forward the form to us.

If you live in Denmark or a country outside the EU, you can apply for legal services in the same way as an Irish resident and we will consider your application.

Any decision we take can be reviewed and/or appealed. This allows you to have your application reconsidered in the light of fresh information, or for the initial decision to be appealed to an appeal committee of the Board.

A review means that you or your solicitor can submit further information to us and ask us to re-consider our decision. The purpose of the review is to allow us to re-examine – and if appropriate, reverse - their decision to refuse in the light of the new information which is being submitted.

You may also appeal against any decision, including any decision taken following a review of the original decision. Your appeal will be considered by an appeal committee consisting of a chairperson and four ordinary members of the board of the Legal Aid Board of whom two must be practising solicitors or barristers. The members of the appeal committee will not be members of our staff. The decision of the appeal committee is final.

You can find out more about the Board’s review and appeal procedures here.

We have published a number of information leaflets mostly in relation to remedies for family law problems. These leaflets are available in thePress & Publications section of this website.

Yes, but only if: 

  • You would not be able to get a loan to pay it somewhere else;
  • It would cause you hardship to have to pay it all; and
  • It would be unreasonable for us to ask you to pay it all at once.


If you are allowed to pay in instalments you will have to pay the full amount within twelve months. Your solicitor will not be allowed to file the papers that start a court action (except if your case is in the District Court) or that explain to the person suing you what your defence is, before you pay the full amount. If you stop paying us, your solicitor might not be allowed act for you any more.

This depends on a range of factors including the number of people who have applied before you to the same law centre and are still awaiting an appointment. We are committed to ensuring that no one waits longer than a period of four months from the date they make a full application. If the issue about which you wish to seek legal advice or aid is one which we regard as a priority, you will be given an immediate or near immediate appointment.

You can find out the most recently published information on waiting timeshere.

If you are not satisfied with the services of your law centre solicitor you should make a complaint to the centre’s managing solicitor. If you are still dissatisfied you should put the complaint in writing. If it is the managing solicitor against whom you have the complaint you should put the complaint in writing and send it to Civil Operations at our head office at Quay Street, Cahirciveen, Co Kerry V23 RD36.

If you are not satisfied with the services of your private solicitor to whom your case has been referred, you should put the complaint in writing and send it to the Director of Specialist Legal Services. You can also ask that any complaint be referred to our Customer Liaison Officer. 

Every effort will be made to resolve the complaint. We have published information on our Customer Care and the Complaints Procedure.