Find legal aid

You might be able to get a short appointment with a solicitor for free or a set cost. Other solicitors might work for you on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.

Getting advice for free or a fixed fee

Some solicitors give 30 minutes’ legal advice for free. Some offer a fixed fee — that way you’ll know in advance what the advice will cost. You can call a solicitor’s office and ask if they offer a free half hour or a fixed fee.

A free or fixed-fee appointment can help you find out your rights and legal position. It’s a good way to find out whether it’s worth taking someone else to court or if you have a case that’s worth defending.

You’ll need to get the best out of your appointment. You should make a note beforehand of what you need to say and find out. You could speak to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice to help you decide what questions to ask the solicitor.

Take any relevant documents to the appointment. Call the solicitor’s office to find out if they want you to bring any particular documents, such as a passport.

Finding a ‘no win, no fee’ scheme

Some solicitors offer ‘no win, no fee’ as a way of paying for civil cases, such as personal injury. No win, no fee agreements are sometimes known as ‘conditional’ or ‘contingency’.

If you win the case, your solicitor will usually be paid by the other side.

If you lose, you won’t usually pay your solicitor’s fee but you’ll still have to pay something. You’ll usually have to pay the other side’s costs. You might have to pay your solicitor’s expenses.

You might be able to take out a special insurance policy before the court case that’ll cover your costs if you lose.

The details of what you’ll pay will be in the agreement. You should read the agreement carefully. Don’t sign it unless you’re sure it’s right for you.

If you want help understanding what the agreement will mean for you, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Finding a solicitor

You can ask your nearest Citizens Advice if they have a list of solicitors offering no win, no fee or free or fixed-fee advice.

You can find out more about using a solicitor on the Law Society website, including how to:

  • look for a solicitor who’s right for your problem
    prepare for your appointment
    complain if you’re unhappy with them
    Getting help through membership or insurance
    If you’ve joined an organisation like a trade union, they might offer you free legal help. Or you might get help with legal expenses as part of another subscription, insurance policy or credit card agreement.

Ask your trade union

Unions can sometimes offer free legal help such as finding and paying for a solicitor — and not just for work problems.

Speak to your shop steward or workplace representative or contact your union’s head office to see if they can give you free legal help.

Check your insurance policies
Look at the policy documents for your car, home and other insurance policies to see if any have legal cover. Check whether they cover your type of case and whether they’ll meet all your costs — most policies won’t pay for everything.

Your insurers might insist that you use their legal team. You can’t use your own solicitor unless it says you can in your insurance terms and conditions.

Contact your motoring organisation

If you’ve joined a motoring organisation for breakdown cover, you might find they offer cheap or free help, particularly with car or accident legal problems. Check your membership agreement or call them to find if they can help.

Check your subscriptions
Think about what other organisations you’ve joined that might help. For example, Which? offers legal advice if you pay a subscription. You can find out about Which? legal services on their website.