Legal Aid – Advice and Assistance, Eligibility & Legal Aid Contributions

There are many common misconceptions about legal aid. Many clients tell us they didn’t think legal aid was available anymore which is not true! Legal aid is still widely available. Also, many people who do not think they’re eligible are in fact eligible for assistance with legal costs from the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

In this blog we aim to provide some clarification about eligibility for legal aid. However, please note that this is a general overview and each case would need to be assessed on an individual basis.

Firstly, there are two types of legal aid:

  1. Advice and Assistance covering office based work, such as meetings, telephone calls, e-mails, letters etc.
  2. Civil Legal Aid – covering cases which have to proceed to Court.

In this blog we aim to deal with Advice and Assistance.

Advice and Assistance (A&A)

In assessing whether you would be eligible for A&A it is important to note from the outset that if you live with a partner, both you and your partner’s capital and income will be taken into consideration. However, if you have children or a partner, then you will be entitled to allowance (i.e. deductions from your capital or income). 

NB – Capital means savings and anything else of value you or your partner own. 

If you have more than £1716, after any allowances have been deducted, at the date of applying for A&A, then you will not be eligible for A&A, regardless of your income. 

If you have less than £1,716, after any allowances have been deducted, at the date of applying for A&A then it is possible that you will be eligible. This will depend on your weekly income which would need to be assessed by us.

If you are in receipt of the following benefits, and are below the £1716 capital limit, you will be automatically eligible for A&A:-

  • Income Support
  • An income-related employment and support allowance
  • Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Universal Credit

If you are not in receipt of these benefits, then you should calculate your weekly income. It is important to highlight that there are also a number of benefits that would not be classed as income, and essentially would be disregarded for the purposes of the A&A assessment. Please remember if you live with your partner, their income will also need to be considered. Both your and your partner’s weekly income needs to work out at £245 or less per week to be eligible. If you have children or you live with a partner, you will be entitled to an allowance for your partner, or each child.


Stacey’s monthly take home pay is £1,365. This works out at £315 per week. (multiply Stacey’s monthly pay by 12 and divide by 52 to work out the weekly pay). Stacey has two children. Therefore, she is entitled to an allowance of £68.27 per child. This means £136.54 will be deducted from Stacey’s weekly income of £315, resulting in her total weekly income for the purposes of A&A being £178.46. This means Stacey would be eligible for A&A.

It’s important to note that even though Stacey is eligible for A&A, a contribution may have to be paid by Stacey.  Contributions are a one off payment paid by the client to the firm acting on your behalf. The maximum contribution is £135. Following this payment, all work carried out by the solicitor would be covered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board and no further payments would need to be paid by the client.  In Stacey’s example she would have to make a one off payment of £77.

Walker Laird’s Family Law team regularly act for clients on an Advice and Assistance basis in cases involving child contact, divorce/separation and non-harassment. Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic we are still very much here to help. We can offer video appointment via FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype or Zoom within our out-with normal business hours.

To find out more and arrange your free introductory appointment please contact David Forbes on 0141 887 5271.  Alternatively, please complete our online form and a member of our team will be in touch.