Financial eligibility for civil legal aid: general conditions and limits

To be eligible for legal aid, an applicant must satisfy the financial conditions on disposable income and disposable capital set out in section 15 of the Act. ”Disposable income” and “disposable income” are defined in section 42. The financial eligibility limits are revised periodically, usually at annual intervals. Schedules 2 and 3 to the regulations contain detailed rules for computing disposable income and disposable capital respectively. We assess an applicant’s disposable income and capital in deciding whether to grant legal aid.

Special rules (paragraph 15 of Schedule 3) apply to assessing the disposable capital of anyone of pensionable age.

Section 42 of the Act requires that when an applicant has a disposable income which exceeds the relevant upper limit set by the Scottish Parliament then the application for legal aid must be refused.  If, however, the applicant is found to have disposable capital in excess of that upper limit, consideration can be given, if we consider that the applicant cannot otherwise afford to proceed, to granting legal aid. Further information about the factors we will take into account when considering if an applicant whose capital exceeds the upper limit should be granted legal aid is available.  Each case will be considered on its own facts and circumstances.

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