How to Figure Out if You Qualify for Legal Aid in South Africa
Legal Aid in South Africa offers free legal assistance to those who are not able to pay for their own attorneys.
The South African constitution guarantees citizens certain rights, among these access to justice.
Not everyone will qualify for legal aid, thought. In this post we will help you to determine if you qualify for legal aid in South Africa or not.
How Much You Earn
If you earn more than R5 500 on a monthly basis after taxes, you will not qualify for legal aid in South Africa. When it comes to families, the total household income cannot be greater than R6 000 after taxes.
What Property You Have
Do you own a house? If so, the value of the house and everything that you own along with it must not be more than R500 000. Should you have more than one house, or you are not living in your house, you will not qualify.
If you do not own a fixed property, the value of your total possessions must come in at less than R100 000 to allow you to qualify.
Those With SASSA Grants
If you get a SASSA grant, the income does not count towards the above totals. You will still, however, need to complete the application with relation to your income and will have to prove that you are receiving the grant.
Legal Assistance for Children
Children automatically get assistance in the event of a criminal case. If the case is civil in nature, the family’s income applies.
In some cases, foreign citizens may also qualify for legal aid.
No Fees for Legal Aid in South Africa
Legal assistance is provided for free as long as you qualify. Lawyers that require you to pay a deposit, or something similar are acting in contravention of the law. Report them!
When Costs May Be Due
If you do go to court and the court awards a settlement, you will be liable to pay a portion of the court costs. This is automatically deducted.
Special Cases Will Be Considered
There are some cases that will be considered if they may have a positive social impact. These are cases that may lead to a change in legislation, for example and where it is not just the person who applies that benefits from the resolution of the matter.
This is what is considered Impact Litigation.
Can You Appeal if Assistance is Declined?
You do have the opportunity to appeal if the branch declines to give you legal aid. This appeal is forwarded first to the Regional Operations Executive. If they decline the application, you can appeal to the National Operations Executive.
Should both executives decline, you will need to take the matter to either the Trial Court or through to one of the higher courts.
If you are still not sure whether or not you qualify, your best bet is to call your local Legal Aid office and check with them. If necessary, you can make an appointment to see them to confirm your options.
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