Who qualifies for legal aid in South Africa?

Who qualifies for legal aid

Legal Aid South Africa (“LASA“) has a mandate from the South African Constitution to help the poor get tax-funded legal assistance. It is important that we make sure the people we help need our assistance the most.

If you ask LASA for legal assistance they will ask you to complete a form so they 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 – 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.

They 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 R500,000. 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 R100,000.

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.

Children:- 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
  • Asylum seekers – Legal aid is available to Asylum seekers applying or intending to apply for Asylum under Chapters 3 and 4 of the Refugees Act 130 of 1998.

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 LASA has 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.

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.

If you would like some legal advice prior to you contacting LASA, then please post your legal question here and one of our attorneys will assist you.