Legal Aid Board
The Legal Aid Board is a statutory body established under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995. The main functions of the Board are to:
- Provide legal aid and legal advice in civil cases (i.e., non-criminal cases) to people who meet the criteria
- Provide a family mediation service
- Provide information about its services
- Manage and administer three criminal legal aid schemes (but it does not provide direct legal aid or advice in respect of criminal matters)
- Assist in the operation of the Abhaile scheme (which assists persons in home mortgage arrears)
This Board consists of a chairperson and twelve other members. At least five of the members of the Board must be women and five must be men. Two members of the Board must be barristers, two must be solicitors and two must be members of the staff of the Board.
The Board has a network of full-time and part-time law centres located throughout the country. The Board has also established panels of solicitors and barristers in private practice who provide legal aid and advice under the Act. If a barrister is required to deal with your case, the Legal Aid Board will appoint one to represent you.
The Board's Family Mediation Service helps couples who have decided to separate or divorce, or who have already separated, to negotiate an agreed way forward, while addressing the needs and interests of all involved.
Cases covered by the Legal Aid Board
The Legal Aid Board tends to provide legal aid and legal advice in the following areas mainly:
- Judicial separation
- Domestic violence
- Custody of and access to children
- Problems relating to hire-purchase agreements
- Contract disputes
- Applications for asylum, subsidiary protection or permission to remain in Ireland
The Board can give legal advice in most areas. It is generally prohibited from providing legal aid in the following categories of cases:
- Defamation claims (i.e., where a person's reputation has been damaged as a result of libel or slander)
- Land disputes (i.e., disputes concerning rights and interests in or over land)
- Civil matters covered by the small claims procedure
- Licensing (publicans' licences)
- Conveyancing (i.e., the legal transfer of a property from one party to another)
- Election petitions
- Claims made in a representative, fiduciary or official capacity (where a person is bringing a case on behalf of someone else or in an official capacity)
- Claims brought by a person on behalf of a group of persons to establish a precedent on a particular point of law ("test cases")
- Any other group or representative action ("class actions")
The 3 ad-hoc criminal legal aid schemes the Board administers are:
- The Garda Station Legal Advice Revised Scheme
- The Legal Aid – Custody Issues Scheme
- The Criminal Assets Bureau Ad-hoc Legal Aid Scheme
The Board provides legal aid or advice to a complainant in certain criminal cases of sexual offences, including rape, aggravated sexual assault and incest. A complainant is the person making the complaint.
It also provides legal services in relation to criminal matters to alleged victims of human trafficking.
There is a network of Legal Aid Centres throughout Ireland. The headquarters of the Legal Aid Board is located in Co. Kerry and can be contacted as follows: