Applications by corporate or unincorporated bodies and sole traders

The Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 states that civil legal aid can only be granted to “a person”. This term is defined in Section 41 as excluding a body corporate or unincorporated, except where the body is acting in a representative, fiduciary or official capacity.

  • Examples of a body corporate would be a limited company, a plc, or a company established by a charter or by Act of Parliament.
  • Examples of a body unincorporated would be a firm or partnership including a limited partnership, a club, society or association.

Individual partners of firms/partnerships

Legal aid is not available to partnerships or to the individual partners of a firm to pursue or defend actions brought by or against the partnership where the effect of giving legal aid to a partner would be to give legal aid to the partnership itself.

Legal aid may be available to an individual who is a partner. For this to happen they would need to have a separate or free-standing cause of action or basis of alleged liability but not simply, or in respect of, liability as a partner for the partnership liabilities. In these circumstances, the application for legal aid should provide full details and any relevant explanation as to how the individual’s interest is, in the circumstances of the case, separate and distinct from that of the partnership.

Sole traders

Sole traders are not corporate or unincorporated bodies and can apply for civil legal aid. There is no prohibition on sole traders seeking legal aid to pursue or defend proceedings about business matters (for example for sums not paid under a contract).


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