Legal Aid, advice and representation in Court are provided by Legal Officers and Attorneys- at-Law in private practice who have registered to be the panel of attorneys attached to the Authority. Legal Aid and advice may be attained in matters such as:
Criminal Law -
- Indictable offences- offences which may be tried by a Judge and a Jury;
- Summary offences- usually criminal matters before the Magistrate's court;
- All offences in a court of Summary Jurisdiction which involves a child or young person;
- Proceedings before a Coroner's Court i.e. inquests touching the death of a person.
Civil Law -
- Domestic Violence
- Possession/ Eviction/ Ejectment Proceedings (Including Matters between Landlords and Tenants in residential agreements)
- Petty Civil Court Matters
- High Court proceedings
- Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration where the value of the Estate does not exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
Legal aid is not provided for ‘defamation election petitions’ and ‘traffic matters’.
Eligibility for Legal Aid
An applicant's eligibility for Legal Aid is dependent on a number of factors. To be approved for Legal Aid in Civil High Court matters the Authority must be satisfied that:
- The applicant has reasonable grounds for taking, defending, continuing or being a party to any proceedings;
- The applicant does not possess nor is entitled to disposable capital that exceeds a maximum value of $5000.00*;
- The applicant's disposable income does not exceed $7000.00* annually after certain deductions are taken out.
*These criteria are being increased presently with the passage of the Legal Aid and Advice (Amendment) Bill 2012.
Payment for Services
Legal Officers are available at various locations throughout Trinidad and Tobago. In cases where an attorney appears on behalf of, or represents the applicant in a legal matter, the applicant is not required to pay the Attorney. However depending on an applicant's means particularly in civil High Court matters, the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority may request from the applicant a small contribution that is paid directly to the Authority. In such cases, an official receipt is issued for the amount paid.