Legal Aid Certificates

Introduction

If a judge considers that it is appropriate that you are granted criminal legal aid, you will be issued a legal aid certificate.

To obtain any of the legal aid certificates listed below, you must apply and show that you have insufficient means to pay for legal representation or, in the case of a child, the child or the child's parents or guardian have insufficient means. There are penalties, including imprisonment, for providing false or misleading information inorder to obtain a certificate.

The court must also be satisfied that the offence, with which you are charged, is of such a serious nature, or there are exceptional circumstances, that it is essential in the interest of justice that legal aid be provided.

There are a number of legal aid certificates:

  • Legal aid (District Court) certificate
  • Legal aid (trial on indictment) certificate
  • Legal aid (appeal) certificate
  • Legal aid (case stated) certificate
  • Legal aid (Supreme Court) certificate
  • Special Criminal Court certificate
  • Legal aid (behaviour order) certificate
  • Legal aid (civil order) certificate
  • Legal aid (monitoring order) certificate
  • Legal aid (protection of persons order) certificate
  • Legal aid (re-trial order) certificate

Legal aid certificates

Legal aid (District Court) certificate

When you are first charged and brought before the District Court you can apply for a legal aid (District Court) certificate. This certificate entitles the solicitor assigned to the case to be paid for all his or her appearances in the District Court.

If the charge is murder or if the case is of sufficient complexity and gravity, the legal aid (District Court) certificate will entitle you to both a solicitor and barrister at the District Court stage.

Legal aid (trial on indictment) certificate

If you are sent forward from the District Court for trial at the Circuit Court or the Central Criminal Court you can apply for a legal aid (trial on indictment) certificate. This application can be made to the District Court when the District Court is sending you forward for trial or, it can be made to the court before which you are to be dealt with.

You must be charged with murder or it must appear to the court that, in the interest of justice, you should have legal aid to assist you in the preparation and defence of your case.

This certificate will entitle you to both a solicitor and barrister.

Legal aid (appeal) certificate

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence and wish to appeal that conviction or the penalty imposed, you can apply for a legal aid (appeal) certificate. The application is usually made to the court before which you have been convicted. If the application is refused in that court you can still get the certificate by applying to the court in which your appeal is to be heard.

There are two ways of applying to the appeal court:

  • By sending a letter to the registrar of the court stating the facts of the case and the grounds for your appeal
  • By applying directly to the court itself

To be eligible for the certificate the conviction must be for murder, or the court must be satisfied that due to the serious nature of the offence it is necessary, in the interests of justice, that you should have legal aid.

The certificate entitles you to a solicitor. If the appeal is to the Court of Appeal, however, you are also entitled to a barrister.

Legal aid (case stated) certificate

If you are charged with an offence before the District Court or Circuit Court, or you are appealing to the Circuit Court against a conviction by the District Court, the judge who is hearing the case may refer a question of law which arises from the hearing to the High Court, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. This is known as a case stated. Similarly, the District Court judge hearing the case may state a case for the opinion of the High Court. In these situations you can apply for a legal aid (case stated) certificate.

If the application to the District Court or Circuit Court is refused, you can apply for a certificate to the court before which the case stated is to be heard. This can be done by:

  • Sending a letter to the registrar of the court setting out the facts of the case and the reason for the application or
  • Applying directly to the court

To be eligible the offence must be of a serious nature or exceptional circumstances must apply. This certificate entitles you to both a solicitor and barrister.

Legal aid (Supreme Court) certificate

If you are appealing a finding of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court you can apply for a legal aid (Supreme Court) certificate. Similarly, if you are charged with an offence, you can apply for a certificate where you appeal a finding of the High Court on a case stated by a District Court judge to the Supreme Court. Where you are appealing a finding of the High Court the offence must be of a serious nature or exceptional circumstances must apply.

If the application for a legal aid (Supreme Court) certificate is refused, you can apply to the Supreme Court for a certificate by writing to the registrar or applying directly to the court.

This certificate entitles you to both a solicitor and barrister.

Special Criminal Court certificate

The Special Criminal Court can grant a legal aid certificate to a person charged with an offence before the Special Criminal Court. The conditions that apply are exactly the same as those for a legal aid (trial on indictment) certificate.

This certificate entitles you to the services of both a solicitor and a barrister.

Legal aid (behaviour order) certificate

If your child (under age 18) is the subject of any court proceedings relating to a behaviour order you may be able to apply for a legal aid (behaviour order) certificate. The alleged anti-social behaviour must be considered to be of a serious nature or there must be exceptional circumstances.

If a certificate is granted, your child is entitled to a solicitor for:

  • An application by the GardaĆ­ for a behaviour order
  • An application by you or your child to vary or discharge a behaviour order

You child is entitled to a solicitor and a barrister (if considered appropriate) for:

  • An appeal by you or your child against the making of a behaviour order
  • Any proceedings in the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court which result from the application for or the appeal against a behaviour order

Legal aid (civil order) certificate

If you are the subject of any court proceedings relating to a civil order you may be able to apply for a legal aid (civil order) certificate. The alleged anti-social behaviour must be considered to be of a serious nature or there must be exceptional circumstances.

If a certificate is granted, you are entitled to a solicitor for:

  • An application by the GardaĆ­ for a civil order
  • An application by you to vary or discharge a civil order

You are entitled to a solicitor and a barrister (if considered appropriate) for:

  • An appeal by you against the making of a civil order
  • Any proceedings in the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court which result from the application for or the appeal against a civil order

Legal aid (monitoring order) certificate

If you are subject to a monitoring order and and intend applying to the courts to have it varied or revoked, you may be able to apply for a legal aid (monitoring order) certificate. The conditions specified in the monitoring order must be of such a nature or the circumstances so exceptional that the court feels legal aid should be granted in the interests of justice.

This certificate entitles you to the services of a solicitor and, if considered appropriate by the court, a barrister.

Legal aid (protection of persons order) certificate

If you are subject to a protection of persons order and and intend applying to the courts to have it varied or revoked, you may be able to apply for a legal aid (protection of persons order) certificate. The conditions specified in the protection of persons order must be of such a nature or the circumstances so exceptional that the court feels legal aid should be granted in the interests of justice.

This certificate entitles you to the services of a solicitor and, if considered appropriate by the court, a barrister.

Legal aid (re-trial order) certificate

If you are the subject of any proceedings in the Court of Appeal relating to a re-trial order, you may be able to apply for a legal aid (re-trial order) certificate. It must appear to the court that, in the interests of justice, you should have legal aid to assist you in the preparation and conduct of your case.This certificate entitles you to both a solicitor and a barrister.

Page edited: 24 December 2015