If you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, you can apply for legal aid.
Legal aid is government funding to pay for legal help if you cannot afford a lawyer. You may have to pay back some or all of the legal aid you get. There are different types available.
Who can get legal aid
To decide whether you can afford a lawyer, Legal Aid Services will consider:
- how much you earn before tax
- the value of your assets, such as house and car
- how many financially dependent children you have.
If you have a partner, their finances will also be considered.
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, they’ll also look at whether you’re:
- charged with an offence that could be punished with a prison term of six months or more
- appealing your conviction or sentence
- appearing before the parole board.
How to apply
For family or civil disputes, your lawyer will help you apply.
For criminal legal aid, you need to fill in an application form. You can get the application form (and free help to complete it) from:
- the duty lawyer at your District Court (ask at the reception desk)
- your local legal aid office
- a Community Law Centre.
Other free legal help
Community law centres
Community law centres offer free legal information and advice to people who cannot afford to see a lawyer privately.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Free advice about just about anything — in your local area and in your own language.
Auckland Disability Law
Auckland Disability Law helps Aucklanders who have disability-specific legal questions.