What does legal aid cover

The nature and importance of the matter have an effect on what services are covered by legal aid in any given case.

Court cases

In court cases, everyone normally needs the assistance of a legally qualified attorney, for instance for purposes of bringing an action or appearing for the defense in the trial of someone charged with an offence. However, no attorney's appointments are given in clear cases, such as undisputed divorces or simple criminal cases sanctioned with a fine. Even for such cases, the legal aid offices offer advice and consultation.

The client has a choice of attorneys, between a public legal aid attorney working at the state legal aid office, an advocate and other lawyer licensed to assist clients in trials for legal assistance.

If legal aid is granted to a person, the state pays the fee of the attorney in full or in part, depending on the available means of the recipient of legal aid. The work of the attorney can be compensated for a maximum of 80 hours. However, in special cases the court may grant a dispensation from this limit. In addition, the court charges and other similar payments are waived for a recipient of legal aid.

The state will not compensate the opposing party for any legal costs in the event that the recipient of legal aid loses the case.

Other matters

Legal aid can be given also in matters that are not to be brought before a court. There may be a need for assistance e.g. in the drawing up of a document, such as an estate inventory or an agreed distribution of matrimonial property.

In certain legal problems, all that is needed is a lawyer's advice. In these matters, legal aid is given by public legal aid attorneys. The recipient of legal aid cannot choose a private lawyer.

In matters not to be brought before a court, legal aid can be given, free of charge or against a deductible, for at most 80 hours per matter. In addition, the document charges and the possible costs of interpretation and translation are waived for a recipient of legal aid.