Civil legal aid and cross border disputes
If you are living in Ireland and have a legal dispute in another EU country you may be able to avail of legal aid in the other country. Access to legal aid in cross border disputes for residents of EU member states is provided under Council Directive 2003/8/EC which established minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. An application form for legal aid was established by Commission Decision 2004/844/EC (pdf), while Commission Decision 2005/630/EC (pdf) established a form for the transmission of applications between countries.
The appropriate authority In Ireland to apply to for legal aid if you are involved in a cross border dispute is the Legal Aid Board.
Each member state has its own financial rules and eligibility criteria. They are modified to some extent for applicants and should take into consideration differences in the cost of living between the country you are living in and the country where you have the legal dispute.
The scope of legal aid schemes and the qualifying criteria can differ between countries. As a result, where you may get legal aid in Ireland for a particular legal dispute, you may not qualify for legal aid in another country due to the differences in the schemes. Similarly, you may qualify for legal aid abroad, where you would not qualify in Ireland. In deciding whether to grant legal aid, the importance of the case to the applicant should be taken into account.
While the Legal Aid Board has no role in deciding whether you should get legal aid in the other country, you will be required to complete the Board's means test and the Board will make a decision as to whether you would qualify for legal aid in Ireland. If the other country requests this information in order to help reach a decision on whether to grant legal aid or not, the board will provide it.
How to apply
If you are living in another EU country and have a legal dispute in Ireland, you should apply to the appropriate authority in that country.
If you are living in Ireland and have a legal dispute in another EU country you should apply to the Legal Aid Board. You can download the application form from the Board's website. The Board will transmit your application for legal aid to the appropriate authority in the other country.
You will be required to provide confirmation of your main sources of income and expenditure, such as:
- A copy of your latest payslip
- A copy of your social welfare payment slip
- Receipts for child care expenses
- Rent book/mortgage statement
The Board will translate these documents before transmitting them, if necessary.