Garden Court North Chambers has a strong commitment to access to justice a large part of which is undertaking work which is funded by legal aid through instructions from law firms and organisations nationwide. This page aims to provide useful information about where legal aid is (still) available and how to get legal help, including links to relevant organisations, with many of whom we work. Some members are also able to be privately instructed directly (without a solicitor) through public access, which is a useful stopgap in some areas where legal aid is now unavailable in most cases (e.g. family immigration, divorce/child arrangements).

Legal aid is available in the following areas of law for individuals whose cases are sufficiently meritorious and (with some exceptions) who are financially assessed at the necessary low level (this list is not exhaustive):

  1. Asylum and immigration: asylum claims and appeals, immigration bail applications, applications for separated children, Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) proceedings, applications and claims for victims of trafficking, slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour
  2. Benefits: appeals against council tax reduction, welfare benefits appeals on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court
  3. Clinical negligence where a baby has suffered a neurological injury during pregnancy or around birth
  4. Community care
  5. Confiscation proceedings, civil injunctions to prevent gang-related violence
  6. Crime
  7. Debt where the person’s home is at risk – mortgage possession of the home, orders for sale of the home and involuntary bankruptcy where the individual’s home forms part of the estate
  8. Discrimination and equality, advice on disabled facilities grants
  9. Education: Special educational needs
  10. Environmental nuisance injunctions
  11. Family issues – mediation on relationship breakdown, child protection/care proceedings, child abduction, inherent jurisdiction, forced marriage and FGM protection orders, home rights, occupation orders and non-molestation orders. Other family law problems or proceedings may be covered if you or your child have suffered or are at risk of domestic violence
  12. Housing – possession proceedings and eviction (including counterclaims for disrepair), unlawful eviction, homelessness, allocations (if homeless/threatened with homelessness), disrepair which poses a serious risk of harm to health or safety, defending anti-social behaviour injunctions, injunctions relating to harassment in the home
  13. Mental health and mental capacity (mental health tribunals)
  14. Inquest into the death of a member of the individual’s family
  15. Judicial review proceedings against public authorities, habeas corpus
  16. Civil proceedings relating to the abuse of a child or vulnerable adult (not under family law), protection from harassment injunctions and variation/discharge of restraining orders, services for victims of sexual offences, barring/disqualification from working with vulnerable children and adults

Exceptional case funding is available for some other cases: the Public Law Project has a briefing paper on this.

To find out if you are eligible for legal aid, you can check the government’s legal aid calculator

To find a legal aid provider, you can search the government’s find a legal aid advisor or family mediator tool. You can also look for a legal aid solicitor using the Law Society’s tool to find a solicitor in your area for the legal issue you need help with, and then filter results by solicitors that offer legal aid. Resolution also offers a tool to find a family law professional who does legal aid cases, through a filter in the advanced search.

If you want to see the source materials for the rules about legal aid, the government website has a collection of legislative materials and guidance, and there is a resources section on the Legal Aid Handbook website (aimed at practitioners).

If you cannot get legal aid (for example because you do not meet the financial means test or your legal problem is not covered by legal aid), you may still be able to get free legal or practical help from other organisations. This might be anything from a one-off advice session or letter to representation at court.

Some organisations which may be able to direct you to or provide free help (either through legal aid or other funding) and/or provide free online information across a wide range of issue areas include:

  1. AdviceLocal
  2. AdviceUK (find an AdviceUK member includes CAB, law centres)
  3. Advocate (volunteer barristers)
  4. Citizens Advice Bureaux – different CAB offer different services but may be able to help with issues such as benefits, consumer rights, debt
  5. Law Centres (search by map or A-Z list)
  6. LawWorks (find a legal advice clinic)
  7. Age UK
  8. Independent Age
  9. Child Law Advice
  10. Coram Children’s Legal Centre
  11. Just for Kids law
  12. Youth Justice Legal Centre
  13. Centre for Women’s Justice (includes links to domestic violence, revenge porn, sexual assault and stalking helplines and services)
  14. Rights of Women (advice lines for criminal, family, immigration and asylum, sexual harassment)
  15. Samaritans (helpline support for anyone who wnats to talk to someone about the problems they are facing in their life) Free Helpline 116 123
  16. The Money Advice Service (free confidential advice about managing finances and dealing with debts. Free advice line 0800 138 77 77
  17. University law clinics (some examples):
    1. Anglia Law Clinic (Cambridge, Chelmsford, Peterborough)
    2. BPP Pro Bono Centre
    3. Leeds Law School Clinic
    4. Liverpool Law Clinic
    5. FreeLaw (Sheffield)
    6. Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre (London)
    7. SILKS Law Clinic (Salford)
    8. University of Bristol Law Clinic
    9. University of Central Lancashire Law Clinic
    10. University of Huddersfield Legal Advice Clinic
    11. University of Law Pro Bono Service

Some organisations specialise or have specific programmes targeted at particular areas of law. Access to these programmes may be limited by where you reside as well as general capacity, but they often also offer online information. Examples are:

  1. Asylum and immigration: AIRE Centre (London, EU issues), ATLEU (London, trafficking), Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) (includes a special project on refugee family reunion), Kids in Need of Defence UK, Liverpool Law Clinic (statelessness), Manual Bravo Project (Leeds, fresh claims), Migrant Help, Project for the Registration of the Children as British Citizens,
  2. Asylum support: Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) (London), GMIAU (Manchester), Refugee Action
  3. Benefits: Child Poverty Action Group (London), Greater Manchester Law Centre, Free Representation Unit (FRU) (London, through referral agencies)
  4. Clinical negligence: Action Against Medical Accidents
  5. Community care (access to health and social services from the NHS and local authorities): Disability Law Service, SeAp
  6. Criminal: Appeal, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Falsely Accused Carers & Teachers (FACT)
  7. Debt/money advice: Manchester CAB, Money Advice Service (government service), Money A+E, Money Advice Plus, Money Advice Trust, Step Change
  8. Employment and discrimination: ACAS, Disability Justice Project, Equality Advisory Support Service, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Free Representation Unit (FRU) (London), Maternity Action, The Monitoring Group (racial discrimination), Protect (whistleblowing), Working Families. Trade unions also offer advice and support.
  9. Education: Schools Exclusion Project
  10. Housing and homelessness: Shelter England, Shelter Cymru
  11. Mental health: MIND
  12. Human rights: Justice, Liberty, Rightsinfo, Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children
  13. Inquests: INQUEST, Love, Jasmine (Liverpool)
  14. International: Amicus, Bar Human Rights Committee, Human Rights Watch, Refugee Legal Support
  15. Prison: Howard League for Penal Reform (for children), Prisoners Advice Service

For practical/emotional (not legal) support at court, Support Through Court (formerly known as the Personal Support Unit, or PSU) may be able to help.

There are also some resources available to help litigants in person (some of the organisation websites above will also have guides to legal issues, e.g. CAB and Shelter):

  1. Advicenow (including Advicenow guides on family law, welfare benefits and raising grievances at work and access to the Community Legal Advice directory)
  2. Appeals Barrister
  3. Bar Council, CiLEX and Law Society Guidelines for Lawyers on Litigants in Person
  4. Child Law – Attending Court (family court)
  5. Disability Rights Handbook
  6. Aspire leaflet on changing from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment
  7. Family Court Without A Lawyer
  8. Judiciary guide to courts and tribunal structure
  9. Judiciary resources for litigants in person
  10. You and the judiciary

Legal Action Group also publishes books on many areas of law traditionally funded by legal aid, but these are mainly aimed at practitioners and are fairly expensive.

There are also general websites (not designed specifically for litigants in person) which contain key resources:

  1. Baili (for case law)
  2. Civil Procedure Rules
  3. Court forms along with guidance notes
  4. Equality and Human Rights Commission
  5. Family Justice Council guidance
  6. Family Procedure Rules
  7. First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) rules and guidance
  8. (please note this website is not always up to date, if you think something is up to date, you can contact the website or your MP)
  9. Each Other (formerly Rights Info)

Members of chambers belong to and/or support the following organisations which represent not just our interests but the interests of the clients we serve, although they do not provide direct legal services they may be useful sources of information:

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