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 organizations 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 organizations, with many of which 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):
- Asylum and immigration: asylum claims and appeals, immigration bail applications, applications for separated children, Special Immigration Appeals Commision (SIAC) proceedings, applications and claims for victims of trafficking, slevery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour
- Benefits: appeals against council tax reduction, welfare benefits appeals on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court
- Clinical negligence where a baby has suffered a neurological injury during pregnancy or around birth
- Community care
- Confiscation proceedings, civil injunctions to prevent gang-related violence
- 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
- Discrimination and equality, advice on disabled facilities grants
- Education: Special educational needs
- Environmental nuisance injunctions
- 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
- 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
- Mental health and mental capacity (mental health tribunals)
- Inquest into the death of a member of the individual’s family
- Judicial review proceedings against public authorities, habeas corpus
- 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 guide 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 organizations. This might be anything from a one-off advice session or letter to representation at court.
Some organizations 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:
- AdviceUK (find an AdviceUK member includes CAB, law centres)
- Advocate (volunteer barristers)
- Citizens Advice Bureaux – different CAB offer different services but may be able to help with issues such as benefits, consumer rights, debt
- Law Centres (search by map or A-Z list)
- LawWorks (find a legal advice clinic)
- Age UK
- Independent Age
- Child Law Advice
- Coram Children’s Legal Centre
- Just for Kids law
- Youth Justice Legal Centre
- Centre for Women’s Justice (includes links to domestic violence, revenge porn, sexual assault and stalking helplines and services)
- Rights of Women (advice lines for criminal, family, immigration and asylum, sexual harassment)
- University law clinics (some examples):
Some organizations 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:
- 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,
- Asylum support: Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) (London), GMIAU (Manchester), Refugee Action
- Benefits: Child Poverty Action Group (London), Greater Manchester Law Centre, Free Representation Unit (FRU) (London, through referral agencies)
- Clinical negligence: Action Against Medical Accidents
- Community care (access to health and social services from the NHS and local authorities): Disability Law Service, SeAp
- Criminal: Appeal, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Falsely Accused Carers & Teachers (FACT)
- Debt/money advice: Manchester CAB, Money Advice Service (government service), Money A+E, Money Advice Plus, Money Advice Trust, Step Change
- 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 (whisteblowing), Working Families. Trade unions also offer advice and support.
- Education: Schools Exclusion Project
- Housing and homelessness: Shelter England, Shelter Cymru
- Mental health: MIND
- Human rights: Justice, Liberty, Rightsinfo
- Inquests: INQUEST, Love, Jasmine (Liverpool)
- International: Amicus, Bar Human Rights Committee, Human Rights Watch, Refugee Legal Support
- 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.
Members of chambers belong to and/or support the following organizations 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: