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Last update: 19-10-2006
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Legal aid - Gibraltar

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What are the costs of a trial and who should normally pay them? 1.
2. What is legal aid? 2.
3. Can I benefit from legal aid? 3.
4. Can legal aid be obtained for all disputes? 4.
5. Is there a specific procedure for emergencies: 5.
6. Where can I obtain an application form for legal aid? 6.
7. Which documents should I attach to my request for legal aid? 7.
8. Where should I register my request for legal aid? 8.
9. How will I be informed of whether or not I am eligible for legal aid? 9.
10. If I qualify for legal aid, what should I do? 10.
11. If I qualify for legal aid, who will choose my lawyer? 11.
12. If I qualify for legal aid, will this cover all the costs of my trial? 12.
13. If I qualify for partial legal aid, who will pay the other costs? 13.
14. If I qualify for legal aid, will it cover any review I might make following the trial? 14.
15. If I qualify for legal aid, can it be withdrawn before the end of the trial (or even after the trial)? 15.
16. If I do not qualify for legal aid, can I appeal against this decision? 16.

 

1. What are the costs of a trial and who should normally pay them?

The costs will depend upon the exact nature of the case. Solicitors incur costs on the express authority of their clients; these costs can include the solicitors' fees themselves and also disbursements for costs such as court fees and expert opinions. If successful, clients may be able to recover some or all of these costs from the losing party, but if they lose or the losing party cannot pay, they are ultimately liable for their own solicitor's costs. At the end of a case, the court will decide, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, who should pay the costs. Although, in general, the loser is ordered to pay the winner's costs, there are many exceptions to this principle.

2. What is legal aid?

In Gibraltar, legal aid in civil matters is referred to as “legal assistance” and is governed by the Legal Aid and Assistance Ordinance 1984, as amended from time to time.

Legal assistance is available in civil court proceedings and tribunals in Gibraltar and includes proceedings before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Legal assistance consists of full representation including all such assistance as is usually given in the steps preliminary or incidental to any proceedings or in arriving at or giving effect to a compromise to avoid or to bring to an end any proceedings.

3. Can I benefit from legal aid?

Persons eligible for legal assistance in Gibraltar are those satisfying the following criteria:

A. Nationality

a. persons ordinarily resident in Gibraltar; or
b. not being ordinarily resident in Gibraltar, are -
i. Gibraltarians as defined in the Gibraltarian Status Ordinance;
ii. nationals of a reciprocating state; or
iii. employed in Gibraltar.
B. Financial Eligibility

A person whose income does not exceed £5,000 a year and does not have a capital of more than £350 (these figures are subject to amendment from time to time).

There must also be reasonable grounds for taking, defending or being party to proceedings.

4. Can legal aid be obtained for all disputes?

Legal assistance is not available in any of the following proceedings:
i. (a) Defamation;
(b) the loss of services of a woman or girl in consequence of her rape or seduction;
(c) the inducement of one spouse to leave or remain apart from the other.
ii. Relator actions.
iii. Proceedings for the recovery of a penalty where the proceedings may be taken by any person and the whole or part of the penalty is payable to the person taking the proceedings.
iv. Election petitions.
v. In the Court of First Instance, proceedings for or consequent on the issue of a judgment summons, and, in the case of a defendant, proceedings where the only question to be brought before the court is as to the time and mode of payment by him of debt (including liquidated damages) and costs.
vi. Proceedings incidental to any proceedings mentioned above.

Legal assistance is available in all other civil court proceedings and tribunals in Gibraltar and in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as well as any proceedings before any person to whom a case is referred in whole or in part by any of the said courts.

5. Is there a specific procedure for emergencies:

Any person who desires legal assistance as a matter of urgency may apply for an emergency certificate.

An application for an emergency certificate must provide such information as may be requisite to enable the Registrar to determine whether:

  1. the applicant is likely to fulfil the conditions under which legal assistance may be granted; and
  2. it is in the interests of justice that the applicant should as a matter of urgency, be granted legal assistance.
An emergency certificate shall remain in force for a period of six weeks, or such longer period not exceeding three months as the Registrar may allow, and unless within that period a certificate is issued in respect of the proceedings to which the emergency certificate relates, it shall, at the end of that period, be deemed to have been revoked; unless during that period the Registrar refuses the application for a full certificate in respect of the proceedings to which the emergency certificate relates, in which case the emergency certificate shall be revoked.

An emergency certificate shall have the same effect as a full certificate.

6. Where can I obtain an application form for legal aid?

Application forms for legal assistance are available from the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar, 277 Main Street, Gibraltar.

You may wish to contact a solicitor or barrister who is on the legal assistance panel who will then be able to assist you in filling out the appropriate forms.

If you do not have a solicitor or barrister the Registrar shall select a solicitor or barrister from the panel to represent you if your application is granted.

7. Which documents should I attach to my request for legal aid?

Every application for legal assistance, including an emergency certificate shall be in the form approved by the Registrar and contain such information and shall be accompanied by such documents as may be requisite to enable the Registrar to determine:-
  1. the nature of the proceedings in which legal assistance is sought and the circumstances in which the legal assistance is required; and
  2. to determine the income and capital of the applicant for which purpose the applicant shall undertake to furnish the Registrar with such further information as may be required in the circumstances of the case.
The application must also be accompanied by an undertaking signed by the applicant, that he will pay on demand a sum to defray the expenses of any preliminary enquiries, which the Registrar may make as a result of the application.

8. Where should I register my request for legal aid?

The Supreme Court of Gibraltar grants legal assistance.

9. How will I be informed of whether or not I am eligible for legal aid?

Your solicitor or barrister will tell you whether you qualify and they are able to assist you. Alternatively you may contact the Supreme Court of Gibraltar.

10. If I qualify for legal aid, what should I do?

Your solicitor or barrister will advise you.

11. If I qualify for legal aid, who will choose my lawyer?

Lawyers participate in the legal assistance scheme on a voluntary basis (i.e. on a panel). The applicant may choose his/her own lawyer provided the lawyer is on the panel. If the applicant is not on the panel, the Registrar will appoint a lawyer from the panel.

12. If I qualify for legal aid, will this cover all the costs of my trial?

Yes. Legal assistance can be granted on a limited basis to enable certain steps to be taken. An application for further steps to be taken can be made at a later stage. However legal assistance can also be granted to cover the whole of the proceedings.

In some cases, the Registrar may require the assisted person to make a contribution.

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13. If I qualify for partial legal aid, who will pay the other costs?

There is no provision for partial legal assistance in Gibraltar. However, an assisted person can be ordered to make a contribution for costs if costs are awarded against him, rather than towards the fees for representing him.

14. If I qualify for legal aid, will it cover any review I might make following the trial?

If you lose a case where your case was not legally assisted you may still apply for legal assistance to appeal to a higher court. If your case as legally assisted your certificate may be extended to cover an appeal.

15. If I qualify for legal aid, can it be withdrawn before the end of the trial (or even after the trial)?

A certificate for legal assistance can be revoked or discharged in any of the following circumstances:
  1. at the request of the applicant;
  2. where the assisted person is required to make a contribution and any payment thereof is more than 21 days in arrears;
  3. if the proceedings to which the certificate relates have been disposed of;
  4. where the assisted person's solicitor or barrister has given up a case and the Registrar is satisfied that the assisted person has required the proceedings to be conducted unreasonably so as to incur unjustified expense to the Fund or has required unreasonably that the proceedings be continued;
  5. where the assisted person has died or has had a receiving order made against him;
  6. where as a result of further determination it is found that the assisted person's income exceeds £5,000 or his capital exceeds £350.
  7. where the assisted person no longer has reasonable grounds for taking, defending or being a party to the proceedings or, as the case may be, it is unreasonable for him in the circumstances to receive legal assistance.
Further the certificate may be revoked in the event that the applicant has wilfully misled the authorities or failed to disclose relevant information.

If a certificate is revoked the assisted person is deemed never to have been legally assisted.

16. If I do not qualify for legal aid, can I appeal against this decision?

Any applicant aggravated by the decision of the Registrar as to his entitlement to receive legal assistance or as to the amount of contribution or as to the discharge or revocation by the Registrar of his legal assistance certificate may within 14 days of receipt of the decision appeal in writing to the Chief Justice.

Further information

Further information about legal assistance in Gibraltar can be obtained from:

Registrar of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar,

277 Main Street

Gibraltar

telephone: 00 350 75608

fax: 00 350 77118

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Last update: 19-10-2006

 
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