Who may apply for Legal Aid?

The following may apply for Legal Aid: all Spanish citizens, nationals of the Member States of the European Union and foreigners who reside in Spain, when they demonstrate that they lack recourse to proceed.
The following may also apply for it: managing bodies and shared services of Social Security, in all cases; associations declared to be of public use set out in article 32 of Organic Law 1/2002 of 22 March, Regulating the Right of Association and Foundations recorded in the corresponding administrative Registry, who lack resources to proceed.
In social law, for trial defence, workers and beneficiaries of the Social Security system, without needing to demonstrate insufficient resources.
In criminal law and administrative law and while not having exhausted all remedies in administrative law, foreign citizens who demonstrate insufficient resources to proceed even if they do not reside in Spain.
Regardless of the existence of resources to proceed, the right to legal aid is recognised to gender, terrorism and human trafficking victims, as well as to minors and people with a psychological disability when they are victims of abusive situations or mistreatment, the right also being held by the successors in the event of death of the victims, as long as they were not the aggressors.
Likewise, the right to legal aid is recognised for whoever, due to an accident, demonstrates having suffered permanent consequences which totally impede them from practicing their normal working or professional occupation and require other people when the subject of the action is to claim compensation for the damage suffered.

Where do I have to go and what must I do to apply for Legal Aid?

In the areas of civil, commercial, administrative law, both if the applicant wants to begin an action and if he/she has been sued, he/she must go to the Legal Guidance Service (LGS) of the corresponding local Bar, where he/she shall request an appointment to have an interview with the advisor (who shall be the lawyer who will initially guide him/her), filling out the application and indicating the documentation he/she must provide to the processor (who is the lawyer who reviews the documentation provided by the application) and he/she who will provisionally rule on whether to grant Legal Aid.

In the area of criminal law, the lawyer who assisted the citizen shall be the one who shall fill out the application for Legal Aid, which must be signed by the application. The lawyer must indicate to the applicant the necessary documentation which the latter must provide to the corresponding local Bar

If the applicant has been sued, after having appeared before the LGS and applied for Legal Aid, he/she must appear before the corresponding Court to apply for the proceedings to be suspended until the right to or the denial of Legal Aid has been recognised, or the provisional appointment of a solicitor and barrister if his/her intervention were mandatory.

In the area of social law, workers and the beneficiaries of the Social Security system, due to not having to demonstrate their financial situation, they shall only go to the LGS to fill out the application, without needing to provide any documentation.

Women who have suffered mistreatment and wish to bring a private prosecution due to not having been recognised to have the right to Legal Aid, regardless of their financial situation, must only go to the LGS to fill out the application and provide the corresponding report or complaint.

Legal aid may also be applied for before the Court corresponding to the applicant’s place of residence. In that case, the court shall transfer the request to the LGS of the Society of Solicitors and Barristers which is competent in that territory.

When can I apply for the legal aid?

When the applicant wishes to brings proceedings or when he/she has been sued.

Once the action has been brought or contested, the right to legal aid cannot be recognised unless the circumstances and conditions necessary for its granting had occurred after the action or the response.

When the applicant seeks to have recognised his/her right to legal aid in the second instance (appeal), without having applied for it in the first instance, he/she must demonstrate that the necessary circumstances and conditions for its granting during the first instance proceedings or after them.

The same rule shall be applicable when legal aid is requested to bring or follow the appeal for annulment regarding the second instance

Is it completely free?

Yes, with the exception of the tariff duties which correspond due to the granting of deeds and by obtaining notarised copies and witness statements, it being mandatory in this case to pay 20% of the total amount, as well as due to tariff duties which correspond due to obtaining notes, certificates, annotations, entries and registrations in Companies House.

These tariff duties need not be paid by the applicant when he/she demonstrates income below the IPREM.

The holder of the right to legal aid shall only be obliged to pay the solicitor’s and barrister’s fees if their intervention was mandatory, as well as the expert reports carried out by private technicians if within three years of the conclusion of the proceedings his/her financial situation improved.

If the holder of the right to legal aid won the case, obtaining financial benefits and the ruling did not contain an express ruling on costs, he/she must pay the costs of his/her defence, without ever exceeding a third of the benefit obtained. If the costs exceeded that third, they shall be reduced to said percentage.

When I apply for legal aid, what provisions am I applying for?

The applicant of Legal Aid may apply for all or any of the following provision, which are set in article 6 of Law 1/1996 of 10 January regarding legal aid:


Prior advice and guidance

Defence and representation by solicitor and barrister

Payment of deposits and fees for remedies

80% reduction of the tariffs corresponding to deeds and obtaining copies and Witness statements

80% reduction of the tariff duties corresponding to obtaining notes, certificates, annotations and entries and registries in the Land Registry and Companies House.

Expert assistance in the proceedings.

In what circumstances does the lawyer appointed by Legal Aid claim his/her bill?

The lawyer may claim his/her fee from the beneficiary if Legal Aid when the latter has won the case, obtaining a financial benefit and an express ruling on costs has not been made in the decision.

The lawyer may also claim his/her bill when the Legal Aid Commission refused the applicant’s claim and there had been a provisional appointment of a lawyer, that provision appointment then being made void, with the lawyer being able to claim the fees occasioned by the intervention made up to the final refusal of the decision.

Can I choose the lawyer or change him/her during the proceedings?

In general, no. Only in some cities does this possibility exist.

Nor can the lawyer evade taking on the designated defence, except in one case and it is only in the field of criminal law when there exists a personal and fair reason, a reason which must be recognised by the dean of the Society of Solicitors and Barristers.

Must the lawyer who represents me meet any requirement or can it be somebody who has recently left the profession?

The lawyer appointed to the Duty Shift must have been practicing the profession for at least three years, hold the diploma of the course of the School of Legal Practice or of equivalent courses approved by the local Bar , or have passed the courses or entry tests for the services of the Duty Lawyer and counsel to the detained person established by the Board of Governors of the local Bar.

Likewise, he/she must have passed the approved specialist courses, in those cases in which they are necessary according to the regulations which are applicable at a given time and regarding the specialism of the matters

If a document is missing, is there a rectification period?

Yes. When the applicant goes to the LGS to hand in the documentation which the consultant thereof ask him/her for and the LGS’s processor confirms that a document is missing, he/she will indicate to the applicant the exact document which he/she lacks, granting a maximum period of ten days to provide it. If the applicant did not provide the required documentation, the document shall be closed and the application for legal aid shall have no effect.

If I want to appeal the ruling, do I have to apply for Legal Aid again?

No. The legal aid will be effective until the conclusion of the proceedings in the relevant court (first instance or appeal), and where appropriate also in the execution of the rulings, if this occurred within two years following the legal ruling handed down in that instance.

I want to separate from my husband because I am suffering mistreatment. Am I entitled to a duty lawyer if my husband earns a lot of money? And if I earn more than what is set out in the requirements?

Regardless of the existence of resources to proceed, the right thereto is recognised for victims of gender violence in all proceedings with which they are connected, whether or not they derive from their status as victims.

The status of victim shall be acquired when a report or complaint is made or criminal proceedings are opened, and it remains in force while the criminal proceedings are ongoing or when, after they conclude, a conviction had been secured.

The mistreated woman shall lose the right to legal aid if the criminal proceedings were stayed or a finding of not guilty were handed down, and from that moment on, unless the financial requirements were met – without taking into account the financial situation of the spouse, since there are opposing interests among them-.

Do foreigners have the right to Legal Aid?

Yes. As long as they demonstrate that they have insufficient resources to proceed, even if they do not reside legally in the national territory.

If I earn more than what is set out in the requirements for applying for Legal Aid, can you grant me it exceptionally?

Yes. The Legal Aid Commission may exceptionally grant, by means of a reasoned decision, recognition of the right to legal aid to those persons whose resources and income, even while exceeding the legally-established limits, do not exceed quintuple the multi-purpose public income indicator (IPREM), and in all case in which the applicant is the ancestor of a special category large family, taking into account the lack of sufficient net worth.

Likewise, the Commission may exceptionally and by means of a reasoned decision grant recognition of the right to legal aid considering the health circumstances of the applicant and the people with disabilities indicated in art. 1.2 Law 51/2003 of 2 December (those people who suffer from long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensorial deficiencies and who have been recognised as having a degree of disability equal to or greater than 33%, equating that percentage to people who have had a pension granted to them due to permanent incapacity at the degrees of total, absolute or great invalidity and civil service pensioners who have a retirement pension granted to them due to permanent incapacity or being unfit for service) as well as to people who are in charge of them when they act for them and on their behalf and as long as it concerns proceedings related to health and disability.

Can a neighbours’ association or a parents’ association apply for Legal Aid?

Only those public interest associations, set out in article 32 of Organic Law 1/2002 of 22 March, which regulates associations, may apply for legal aid.

Who offer the Legal Guidance Services of the Society of Solicitors and Barristers?

The Legal Guidance Services (LGS) in the local Bar  are those which are responsible for prior guidance of the applicants for legal aid, as well as of for informing of compliance with the necessary requirements for the recognition of said right.

The lawyers assigned to the LGS are, likewise, those who are responsible for filling out the application forms, indicating to the applicants the documentation it is necessary to provide together with the application form and who, taking into consideration the application and documentation, make a provisional decision to grant or not to grant legal aid.

What benefits does the Legal Aid Electronic Document of the Legal Profession offer?

The applications authorised by the citizen and processed by means of the Legal Aid Electronic Document in the local Barprovide transparency in the management, minimise the errors of the administrative document, they reduce the financial cost and the deadlines for processing by up to 40 days.

The system developed by the Technological Infrastructure of the Spanish Legal Profession, RedAbogacía, already connects 70 local Bars  telematically and simply with bodies such as the Inland Revenue, the National Institute of Social Security and his General Treasury, the Directorate General of the Land Registry, or the National Institute of Employment, among others. With this economic system, the citizen will avoid a trip and waits at the windows of each of the competent Administrations.

What documents do I need to submit in order to receive Legal Aid?

Non todos os documentos que se relacionan a continuación son necesarios en todos os casos, senón que haberá que atender a cada caso, en función do lugar de residencia do solicitante e das circunstancias que alegase na súa solicitude, que serán as que deberá acreditar documentalmente. En todo caso, a seguir facilítase unha lista orientativa de que documentación pode ser necesario achegar:

  • Fotocopia do DNI, do pasaporte ou da tarxeta de residencia do solicitante.
  • Certificado de liquidación do IRPF ou certificado de non presentar a documentación (de toda a unidade familiar, no caso de non estar obrigados).
  • Certificado catastral de bens inmobles.
  • Nota simple do Rexistro da Propiedade se se alegan cargas sobre o inmoble.
  • Certificados de altas e baixas da Seguridade Social.
  • Certificado de empresa que acredite os ingresos brutos anuais.
  • Certificado de liquidación do imposto sobre sociedades (no caso de persoas xurídicas).
  • Fotocopia da declaración de utilidade pública ou da inscrición no Rexistro de Fundacións (no caso de persoas xurídicas).
  • Certificado de signos externos do concello onde se atopa o domicilio.
  • Certificado de empadroamento.
  • Certificado do INEM do período de desemprego e da percepción de subsidios.
  • Certificado de cobramento de pensións públicas.
  • Certificado do Servizo Público de Emprego Estatal (SEPE) no que conste a percepción da axuda por desemprego e o período ao que se estende.
  • Outros (calquera documento que sirva para acreditar os datos alegados).

Non obstante, co obxecto de axilizar o trámite de solicitude, os colexios de avogados poderán, no caso de que se lles autorice de forma expresa, solicitar en nome dos solicitantes varios destes certificados