Section 14(1)(b) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 requires us to be satisfied that it is reasonable in the particular circumstances of the case that your client should receive civil legal aid. This test gives us a very wide discretion.

Our statutory responsibility is to assess whether your client has probable cause and whether it is reasonable to make legal aid available. We will not prejudge issues that are matters for the court to decide.

We will only grant applications that meet the tests for probable cause and reasonableness set out in our guidance. We would encourage you to send us applications that are fully complete to avoid continuations or refusals followed by review.

While we cannot have an exhaustive list of the circumstances which would meet the  reasonableness test, this guidance tells you about the key issues you should address.

Overview of factors we must consider

Before we can grant civil legal aid we must consider:

  • The estimated prospects of success for the case;
  • The prospects of practical change as a result of a positive outcome from the case where the remedy available is not a financial one;
  • The prospects of financial recovery as a result of a successful outcome in a case where the remedy available is a financial one;
  • The degree of risk of the court action being premature;
  • The estimated cost of the case;

You should read the general information contained in the guidance alongside the specific case information for the application you are making. We will consider each case on its individual circumstances and you should follow these guidelines as appropriate.

Public Sector Equality Duty

In the exercise of our functions, we have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

These duties are embedded in how we assess the reasonableness test.  However, if you consider that the Public Sector Equality Duty is engaged in a case you should draw this to our attention, and explain why it applies.

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