We are a Lanarkshire law firm with lawyers and solicitors who offer legal aid to clients in Airdrie, Coatbridge, Motherwell, Hamilton, Cumbernauld, Bellshill, Wishaw and throughout Lanarkshire and the rest of Scotland. Legal aid allows those who would not otherwise be able to afford it to get help for their legal problems. The Scottish Legal Aid Board can provide funding to help people who qualify to get legal advice and representation from a lawyer or solicitor.
- Civil legal assistance helps people to get legal advice and representation, in civil cases. This covers cases such as family law, divorce, child contact and residence, interdict, compensation claims, guardianship and eviction actions. However, legal aid is also available to allow a lawyer to act for you in other matters such as wills, guardianship orders and powers of attorney.
- Criminal legal assistance helps people who have been charged with a criminal offence to get legal advice and representation.
- Childrens Legal Aid – covers Childrens referral hearings and other areas relating to protection and care of children
Civil legal assistance includes advice and assistance and civil legal aid. Similarly, criminal legal assistance is advice and assistance and criminal legal aid. Advice and assistance helps to pay for advice from a solicitor on any matter of Scots law. (For example, to try to settle a dispute without going to court.)
At Hamilton Ross Solicitors, our lawyers are able to offer Civil Legal Aid and advice and assistance to our clients who qualify. Our lawyers and solicitors based in our offices in Motherwell and Airdrie will be able to advise you if you qualify. Every lawyer and solicitor who works for us has experience in dealing with legal aid cases.
In some special circumstances, it may also cover a solicitor representing you in court – this is called ABWOR – “assistance by way of representation”. Depending on the applicant’s financial circumstances, they may have to pay towards their advice and assistance. Advice and assistance covers a wide range of matters, so long as they are matters of Scots law and the applicant qualifies financially. This might include advice on divorce, contact with children, personal injury claims, welfare rights, wills, power of attorney, eviction, or guardianship. The applicant’s solicitor will decide whether they meet the financial eligibility limits for advice and assistance. Civil legal aid will provide funding for a solicitor act where a case is being pursued in court. In Lanarkshire there are Sheriff Courts in Airdrie, Hamilton and Lanark. It covers the preparation work, as well as the hearing itself, and can provide funding for advocates, experts etc. (Most cases begin with advice and assistance, and civil legal aid may be the next step if necessary.) Here are some examples of issues that civil legal aid might be able to help with:
- divorce, separation and other matters affecting family and children
- actions for compensation for injuries resulting from an accident, or medical negligence
- housing matters such as rent or mortgage arrears, repairs, eviction
- child contact and residence cases
The opponent of someone who has applied for civil legal aid has the right to object to the application for, or grant of, civil legal aid. The Board assesses all applications in the same way and we must follow rules set down in law by Parliament. To be granted civil legal aid, all of the following tests must be met by the applicant:
- they must qualify financially for legal aid
- they must have a legal basis for their case, sometimes called probable cause
- it is reasonable in the particular circumstances of the case that they should receive legal aid
- financial help is not available from someone else – like a trade union, insurance company or professional body.
Criminal legal aid can be available for someone to get legal advice and representation in criminal court proceedings. In some circumstances, criminal legal aid may automatically be available immediately and without having to make an application. This may be through the duty solicitor. The cost of legal assistance is met from public funds through the Scottish Legal Aid Board, apart from:
- Under criminal legal assistance any amount the applicant may pay in contributions under advice and assistance.
- For civil legal assistance, it may be free or the applicant may have to pay a contribution towards the cost of their case. Also they might have to pay from money or property that they win or keep as a result of their case.
Whether you require legal aid for a divorce, child contact or residence dispute, compensation claim or even for a will or power of attorney, contact us at our Airdrie or Motherwell offices to speak to one of our lawyers for further information.