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 R300,000. 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 R75,000.
Some people automatically qualify for legal aid
People on state grants and the elderly
If you receive any state grant or old age pension, you automatically qualify for legal aid. You do not have to take the Means Test. You will need to show us official documents that prove you receive a state grant or pension.
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:
- Is criminal
- Involves children
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 204 473 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.
You can appeal our decision to refuse legal aid
If you are refused legal aid but still feel you deserve it, then you have the right to appeal. Once you notify us, we will give you a form to complete and information on what you should do.
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.