Getting legal aid

Description:

Legal Aid South Africa can assist those who qualify with criminal and civil cases when you’re suspected of committing an offence, or where a judge needs to decide on a dispute between you and someone else or a company.Lawyer giving clients legal advice

Getting access to reliable legal advice and assistance in South Africa can be an overwhelming task if you consider that standard attorney fees range from R1 500 - R2 500 an hour. However, the good news is that you can get access to quality legal service from a Legal Aid office near you

Who qualifies for Legal Aid?

To get legal aid, you have to pass a "means test", proving that you earn less than an amount determined by the Legal Aid Board. The amount is reviewed every year and is determined by factors, including:

  • your marital status,
  • your employment status,
  • if you’re a homeowner (the total value of the house and all your belongings must not be worth more than R500 000. You must only have one house and you must live in it), and
  • if you’re not a homeowner (the total value of all your belongings (for example, your car, furniture, clothes and other personal things) mustn’t be worth more than R100 000).

You also have to prove that you don’t have any other ‘liquid assets’ (these are assets that can be converted into cash quickly, for example money in a savings account that could be used to pay for legal fees).

 You automatically qualify for Legal Aid in the following instances:

  • You’re receiving a state grant.
    • You don’t have to take the means test, and you’ll need to show official documentation that you’re receiving a state grant or pension.
  • You’re elderly.
    • You don’t have to take the means test, and you’ll need to present documentation that you’re receiving a state grant or pension.
  • You’re a child.
    • In criminal cases, children automatically qualify for Legal Aid and don’t have to take the means test. If it’s a civil case, the family of the child will need to take and pass the means test. 

You don’t pay for legal aid

If you qualify for legal aid, and Legal Aid SA agrees to represent you, the service will be completely free and you won’t be held responsible for any of the fees involved.

Note: Legal Aid South Africa lawyers may not ask for payment or be paid when they assist you with your case. If this does happen, please report the lawyer to Legal Aid SA by calling their Ethics Hotline on 0800 153 728, or visiting their website or going to their offices.

Instructions:
Legal Aid assistance
If you need more information or advice, please contact your nearest Legal Aid Board Offices (also Called Justice Centres), or one of the following legal aid clinics:
 
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The content on this page was last updated on 20 September 2017