If a person has a capital of over £350 they won’t get Legal Assistance (unless the person can show they cannot proceed without legal assistance). Capital includes:
• Money in the bank
• Valuable items
• Value of your home (if you own it)
How to apply for Legal Assistance
Application forms for Legal Assistance are available from the Supreme Court Registry, 32-36, Town Range, Gibraltar. The form should be duly completed (CAB can assist you in completing the form) and handed into the Supreme Court Registry with any other documents which will enable the Registrar to determine the circumstances in which legal assistance is needed.
The Registrar will refer the application to a solicitor/ barrister and he/she will investigate the merits of the applicant’s case. The applicant will usually have to make an appointment with the solicitor/barrister to explain their case and the solicitor/barrister will then report to the Registrar.
The Registrar investigates the income of the applicant and the report from the investigating solicitor/barrister. The Registrar then decides if the case in his/her opinion qualifies for legal assistance and either grants legal assistance or not.
If legal assistance is refused the applicant can appeal against the decision, within 14 days of receipt of the decision. The Appeal must be made in writing to the Chief Justice, 277, Main Street, Gibraltar.
Alternatively you may ask a lawyer to apply for Legal Assistance on your behalf.
Procedure for Emergency Legal Assistance
A certificate for Emergency Legal assistance can be obtained by applying in writing to the Registrar. This certificate remains in force for six weeks until the applicant gets a full legal assistance certificate.
Granting of Legal Assistance Certificate
Once a Legal Assistance Certificate is granted applicant can select a barrister/solicitor from the panel of barristers/solicitors available or a barrister/solicitor will be selected for them.
Legal aid for civil cases (non- criminal)
A person who needs help with paying for legal advice, may be able to get civil legal aid (known as legal assistance).
The applicant must be ordinarily resident in Gibraltar, to be eligible for Legal Assistance however, the applicant will need to meet certain financial conditions before qualifying for legal assistance.
A Legal Assistance Certificate helps the applicant pay for legal advice, mediation or representation in Court with problems such as housing, debt and family.
What cases qualify for Legal Assistance?
Proceedings for which Legal Assistance may be given:
• Supreme court proceedings;
• Court of first Instance Proceedings;
• Magistrate’s court in its Civil Jurisdiction in Matrimonial Proceedings;
• Court of Appeal Proceedings;
• Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Proceedings.
The Registrar of the Supreme Court will only give Legal Assistance if the applicant can show they have reasonable grounds for taking, defending or being a party to an action.
What are the financial conditions for Getting Legal Assistance
Legal Assistance is available for any person whose income does not exceed £5,000 a year (these figures are subject to amendment from time to time). (This was been looked into in Oct 2017 to increase to £14,000)
A person who has a capital of more than £350 and earns less than £5000 a year, must show they cannot afford to proceed without legal assistance.
The applicant has to include their partner’s income unless their partner is the person who they are in dispute with.
Procedure for Emergency Legal Assistance
A certificate for Emergency Legal Assistance can be obtained by applying in writing to the Registrar. This certificate remains in force for six weeks until the applicant gets a full Legal Assistance Certificate.
Granting of a Legal Assistance Certificate
Once a Legal Assistance Certificate is granted the applicant can select a barrister/solicitor from the panel of barristers/solicitors available otherwise a barrister /solicitor will be selected for them.
Money Recovered under an Order for costs
If the Court makes an order for costs in an applicant’s favor, then any sums recovered by virtue of the order or agreement for costs shall be paid to the Consolidated Funds.
Legal Aid for Criminal Cases
Legal Aid in criminal cases is available for any person committed for trial for an indictable offence (indictable offences are serious crimes which the Magistrates Court passes on to the Supreme Court to deal with) or an offence which is punishable in the Magistrate’s Court on conviction with imprisonment. This does not include imprisonment in default of payment of a fine.
The person may apply for Legal Aid to:
• The Magistrate’s Court Judge/Lay Bench;
• The Committing Justice upon being committed for trial:
• The Chief Justice at any time after reading the depositions (statements, information on the case itself). The Chief Justice may grant Legal Aid whether or not an application has been previously made to the Committing Justice.
Legal Aid will not be granted unless the applicant can show the Magistrate’s Court Judge, Lay Bench, Committing Justice or the Chief Justice that he/she cannot afford to pay for legal advice and/or representation.
How to apply for legal aid
Application for legal aid can be made in the Magistrates Court to the Judge. If the Court refuses to grant legal aid, the person may apply to the Chief Justice in writing and the Chief Justice has the power to grant the legal aid certificate.
A person may also apply for legal aid by letter. The letter must be addressed to the Clerk to the Justices and must contain particulars of the offence/s charged and the grounds of the application. If a person is refused a legal certificate by letter, legal aid can still be granted at the hearing if the court is satisfied that the person has insufficient means to enable him to obtain such aid.
A person may need to give a written statement about income before being granted legal aid.
Free Advice and Representation on Appeal
Any person convicted of a crime and wishing to appeal their conviction and/or sentence can apply for legal aid for advice and assistance prior to any appeal. Legal aid can also be applied to cover the preparation and conduct of the appeal or any proceedings preliminary or related to the appeal.
The application can be made to the Chief Justice or the Court of Appeal in person.
Are you eligible for Legal Aid/Assistance
Legal Aid provides confidential legal services, advice and representation by a lawyer for those who would be unable to afford those services.
A person requesting legal aid will usually need to show that:
• their case qualifies for legal aid;
• their problem is serious;
• they can’t afford to pay for legal costs.
Criminal Legal Aid allows a person who has been accused of a crime (where if found guilty could face imprisonment) to have a lawyer prepare and defend them in court.
Civil legal Assistance allows a person to have a lawyer give them legal advice and represent them in court.
We suggest you still make enquiries at the Magistrates Court/Supreme Court at 277, Main Street, Gibraltar.
The information and guidelines are for individuals’ general information purposes only.
It is not intended, nor should it be substituted for proper legal or professional advice.
You should not act or refrain from acting on the information stated without first seeking legal or professional advice.
You can also contact the Citizens Advice Bureau in Gibraltar for further information.
CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU GIBRALTAR
10a Governor’s Lane,
Phone: +350 200 40006
Fax: +350 200 40281
CAB SERVICE AIMS TO
Ensure that individuals do not suffer through lack of knowledge of their rights and responsibilities or of the services available to them or through an inability to express their needs effectively.