Who qualifies for legal aid
If you ask us for legal assistance we will ask you to complete a form so we can understand how much money you get each month and what things you own, like a car or house. This is called the Means Test. A Legal Aid South Africa official is always available to help you fill this form in.
The Means Test – we look at what you earn
Legal aid for individuals
If you are employed, you must earn less than R5,500.00 per month after tax has been taken off.
Legal aid for households
If you live with other people for more than 4 nights per week, and these other people share in the cost of food and other costs, then we will look at your total household income. We will only give legal aid to households that earn less than R6,000.00 per month. Again, we will only look at the amount that the household receives after tax has been taken off.
We also take into account what you own
If you or your household:
- own a house, then the total value of the house and all your belongings must not be worth more than R500,000. You must also only have the one house and you must live in it.
- do not own a house, then the total value of all your belongings (for example, your car, furniture, clothes and other personal things) must not be worth more than R100,000.
- Is criminal
- Involves children
- Asylum seekers – Legal aid is available to Asylum seekers applying or intending to apply for Asylum under Chapters 3 and 4 of the Refugees Act 130 of 1998.
People on state grants and the elderly
When you receive a SASSA grant, that money will not be taken into account when considering your income for purposes of qualification. You will need to show us official documents that prove you receive a state grant or pension and will need to take the Means Test.
In criminal cases, children automatically qualify for legal aid and do not have to take the Means Test. If it is a civil case, the family of the child will need to take and pass the Means Test
Worth knowing …
Aid for non-citizens
Legal aid is available to anyone who lives in South Africa (not only South African citizens) if the case:
In civil cases legal aid is not available to non-citizens.
You don’t pay for legal aid
If you qualify for legal aid, and we have agreed to represent you, you will not have to pay for anything. In fact, Legal Aid South Africa lawyers may not ask or be paid any money when they assist you with your case. If this does happen, we ask that you report the lawyer to us by calling our Ethics Hotline on 0800 153 728 or through the website or visiting us.
We may deduct costs and benefits
Although you don’t pay for legal aid, if you should win a civil case we will deduct the money that the court grants to pay for costs and benefits, before we pay the money owing to you.
We also consider special legal cases
Legal Aid South Africa tries to help as many people who can’t afford help as possible. From time to time, opportunities arise for us to take on legal work that has the potential to positively change the lives of a far larger number of people than just the person that we provide legal assistance to. These cases fall under our Impact Litigation Programme.
Appeals against refusal of legal aid
Where a Justice Centre Executive (JCE) refuses the applicant legal aid, such applicant to the ROE.
Where the Regional Operations Executive (ROE) confirms the refusal, then the National Operations Executive (NOE). There are no further internal appeals against refusals of legal aid save for the procedures set out in section 22 of the Legal Aid SA Act 39 of 2014
Leave to Appeal and Appeal
Legal Aid is provided for application for leave to appeal to the Trial Court and application/petition for leave to apply to a higher court if leave to appeal was refused. Legal Aid is also provided if leave to was granted or if accused has automatic rights of appeal. Second or further appeal is granted, subject that there are merits
If you qualify, then get in touch
If you think you qualify for legal aid, or if you have any questions that you would like to ask, then please contact us.