Legal aid data

Legal aid can help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or tribunal.

You’ll usually need to show that:

  • your case is eligible for legal aid
  • the problem is serious
  • you cannot afford to pay for legal costs


Legal aid overview

Closed-case measure of expenditure - nominal terms (£m)

2020-21 (source). 'nominal terms' means not adjusted for inflation.

RDEL (Resource Departmental expenditure limit) (£m)

2019-20 (source). Note: figures for 2020-21 will be updated once the LAA accounts are laid before parliament.


This area covers work carried out by legal aid providers at police stations and in magistrates’ courts in relation to people accused of or charged with criminal offences. Prison law is also included within the latter category.

See Legal aid statistics quarterly for further information.


Information is provided on legal representation in the Crown Court and above. This includes, Crown Court cases (typically solicitor prepares case for trial and barrister or solicitor advocate provides representation), Very High Cost Cases (extensive evidence reviewed and case prepared by solicitor where the senior counsel (QC) often presents).

See Legal aid statistics quarterly for further information.


This is a form of civil legal services which includes advice and assistance about a legal problem, but does not include representation or advocacy in proceedings. It is usually the first point of civil legal advice and can be over the telelphone or face-to-face.

See Legal aid statistics quarterly for further information.


Civil Representation is representation by solicitors and barristers for civil cases, which could go to court. Many legal help cases will extend to civil representation with full investigations undertaken or in court representation given although it is possible enter straight into civil representation.

See Legal aid statistics quarterly for further information.


Family mediation involves an independent and impartial professionally accredited mediator discussing problems with a divorcing or separating couple in an attempt to reach agreement without using the courts.

See Legal aid statistics quarterly for further information.

12,652

2020-21

7,687

2020-21

7,712

2020-21

6,072

2020-21


This scheme was introduced in April 2013 for clients whose case falls outside the scope of legal aid, but failure to grant funding could breach their human rights or EU legal rights. The same means and merits criteria apply as for legal aid, but there is an additional ECF merits criteria to be met.

See Legal aid statistics quarterly for further information.

3,338

2020-21

2,437

2020-21