Legal aid

What if I don't qualify for legal representation?

If an intake legal assistant tells you that you do not qualify for legal representation, you may be able to ask for a review of this decision. See How to apply for a review of a legal aid refusal. You may also still be eligible for legal advice, and our legal information is available to everyone.

Do I qualify for legal representation?

To find out if you qualify for a legal aid lawyer, it's best to phone the Call Centre or come into a legal aid office and apply.

To get a legal aid lawyer to represent you:

  • your legal problem must be covered by our legal aid rules, and
  • your net monthly household income and assets must be at or below our financial guidelines.

Monthly income

An intake legal assistant at your legal aid office will determine your monthly income by calculating your net income and the net income of members of your household.

What may be included in monthly income?

Some of the things an intake legal assistant will include in your monthly income are:

  • employment,
  • self-employed business income,
  • social assistance benefits,
  • Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits,
  • disability pensions or benefits,
  • child or spousal support,
  • student loans,
  • money from boarders (including children who pay rent) or rental property,
  • income of spouse and
  • income of a common-law partner you have lived with for two years or more, or with whom you have a child.



What isn't included in monthly income?

An intake legal assistant at your legal aid office will calculate your net income by adding your income from all relevant sources, then subtracting allowable deductions.

Some of the things they won't include in monthly income are:

  • the Child Tax Benefit,
  • the BC Family Bonus,
  • GST payments,
  • tuition or book fees under federal or provincial student loans, or
  • children's income.


What's an allowable deduction?

Some of the allowable deductions may include:

  • mandatory deductions from your pay such as income tax, EI, and CPP;
  • daycare expenses;
  • Medical Service Plan payments;
  • child or spousal maintenance payments that you or your partner are paying;
  • court fines that, if not paid, will mean you or your partner will go to jail;
  • travel costs for child access visits; and
  • medical or dental expenses or medication you must personally pay for that a doctor says is necessary for you or your dependants.


Household assets

An intake legal assistant at your legal aid office will look at the value of your assets to determine your financial eligibility for legal aid.

Assets are things you own, such as:

  • property,
  • cash,
  • RRSPs,
  • a boat, or
  • a car.

There are five different asset categories:

  • family home,
  • real property (other than the family home),
  • vehicles,
  • business assets,
  • personal property, and
  • RRSPs.

Each category has different limits.

The intake legal assistant will usually consider your assets as disposable (able to be sold) with some exceptions.

If you own land, you must provide us with a recent BC Assessment document and an up-to-date mortgage statement.

Household income

Your net monthly income must be below the amount for your household size in the table below. The guidelines apply to all types of cases, including appeals.

Only a legal intake assistant can determine if you're financially eligible for legal aid. The following information is not complete.

Household income table