Address: 188-189, Old Bakery Street, Valletta
Telephone: +356 2247 1500
Apply online: Online Referral System (LARS)
Legal aid is the provision of assistance to low-income people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is important to provide access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial to indigent people. It is central in giving equality before the law in a democratic society.
Legal Aid Malta Agency was established by Legal Notice 414 of 2014 and its function is to provide operational and administrative support to legal aid services. Legal Notice 64 of 2016, Legal Aid Agency (Procedures) Order 2016, lays down the procedure to be adopted by the Agency for civil legal aid applications. It also spells out the functions and duties of the administration staff within the Agency.
Civil Case Proceedings
In civil procedures an applicant requesting legal aid services needs to be eligible under both the means and merits tests. For an applicant to qualify under the means criteria, the person must not possess property of any sort, including disposable money, the net value hereof does not exceed €13,000 for the preceding twelve months. Moreover, the applicant’s income should not, for the period of twelve months prior to the demand for the benefit of legal aid, exceed the national minimum wage for persons above the age of 18. Moreover, in calculating the net value for eligibility account shall be taken of the rent paid for the property used as the main residence, upon presentation of a registered contract according to law and relevant payment receipts; and account shall be taken of the maintenance paid to the other spouse and children, issued by a Court order, upon presentation of relevant evidence of payment. Excluded from the means test assessment are everyday household items that are considered necessary for the use by the applicant and his family, as well as the principal residence of the applicant or any property (both movable and immovable) which forms the subject matter of court proceedings.
For an applicant to qualify under the merits criteria, the resident lawyer at the Agency on examining the nature of the case must conclude that the applicant has reasonable grounds for taking or defending proceedings before the courts, i.e., that the applicant has in his favour a probabilis causa litigandi. Each case is examined on its own merits. The assessment carried out by the resident lawyer at the Agency would include examining the substance of the case, the possible outcome of the proceedings, and the prospect of success.
Criminal Cases in Summary Proceedings
A person appearing before the Court of Magistrates in summary proceedings may on the day of the hearing request the presiding Magistrate to be assisted by a legal aid lawyer. The Magistrate is to appoint the lawyer according to the daily roster. Otherwise, if a person received official notification by Police that she/he is being brought before the Court, she/he may bring the documents to the offices, and Legal Aid will act accordingly. No means test is undertaken.
A person appearing before the Criminal Court may on the day of the hearing request the presiding Court to be assisted by a legal aid lawyer. The Court will take note in the acts of the proceedings and refer the request to Legal Aid Malta Agency who will submit a note within two days from when it is received indicating whether the request will be acceded or not and, if in the affirmative, the name of the legal aid lawyer who will be assisting the person. Otherwise, if a person received official notification by Police that s/he is being brought before the Court, s/he may bring the documents to our offices, and we will act accordingly. No means test is undertaken.
Victims of Crime and Domestic Violence
A person falling within the definition by law as a victim of crime and /or victim of gender-based violence and domestic violence may request to be assisted by a legal aid lawyer. The person must immediately refer the matter to the Police. A victim of crime will initially be assigned a legal aid lawyer for advice only. Thereafter, if the person needs to be assisted as a third party in Court proceedings the person is referred to the Agency who will give the necessary directions to the client. No means test is undertaken.
Domestic Violence During Personal Separation Procedures
When a person has a personal separation procedure brought before the appropriate section of the Civil Court and files an application about domestic violence, the Court shall appoint the application within four days and may on its own motion, before or after the hearing, issue a protection or treatment order.
|Civil Legal Aid Benefit
|Criminal Legal Aid Benefit
|• Prospective client provides required documents for means testing by attending an Agency appointment or else uploads documents through the online referral system.
• If prospective client is eligible through means testing, an appointment is set with our Resident Legal Aid Lawyer for a merits test.
• If prospective client is eligible through both means and merits test, an official application is drawn up and a court application is presented to Superior Civil Court to issue a decree for the appointment of a Legal Aid Lawyer and Legal Aid Procurator.
• Client is informed through SMS/telephone/email with the name of the assigned Legal Aid Lawyer to discuss the legal issues the lawyer has been assigned for.
|• Person for interrogation or under arrest can ask the Police to be assisted by a lawyer.
• If a person is brought to Court under arrest or attending court case of summary proceedings, the accused can ask the presiding Magistrate to be assisted by legal aid lawyer on daily roster.
• In other criminal cases, the accused shall file his request through the Court, which call be communicated to the Agency to assign a Legal Aid Lawyer.No means test is undertaken.
Civil Legal Aid Benefit: Flowchart
Criminal Legal Aid Benefit: Flowchart