Legal aid means legal assistance that is wholly or partially paid for by the state. The term refers both to free legal advice and to free assistance with the conduct of court proceedings. Free legal advice means guidance and help with legal matters that are not the subject of court proceedings. Free assistance with the conduct of court proceedings means help with cases that come before the courts.
In some types of cases you can obtain financial support for legal advice or for bringing a case before the courts. If you need legal aid, you should contact either the County Governor or a lawyer.
What types of cases are eligible for legal aid
Example of situations where legal aid may be available include family-law proceedings, some types of appeals about social welfare benefits, claims for compensation for personal injury, threatened or actual eviction from your home, and termination of employment. You may also be granted legal aid if you are claiming compensation for criminal injuries. Legal aid may also be available in other types of cases, but only in exceptional circumstances. In general you will not be eligible for legal aid if you have insurance that will cover your legal expenses.
Means testing for legal aid
You will only be eligible for legal aid if your income is below the thresholds stated in the Legal Aid Act. In some circumstances, however, the County Governor or the courts may grant an exemption from the rules on means testing.
Regardless of your income or capital, you can obtain legal aid:
• in child protection cases before the county social welfare board
• in cases before the Mental Health Care Supervisory Commission or legal proceedings about discharge from compulsory mental health care.
• in cases concerning a refusal to perform military service
• in cases concerning violence against women
• in cases concerning forced marriages
• in cases where a victim of violence is claiming compensation from the perpetrator
• in cases concerning damages for unjust prosecution
• for evaluating whether to make a formal complaint in connection with rape
• for evaluating whether to make a formal complaint in connection with human trafficking
Contributing to your legal costs
Even if you have been granted legal aid, generally you will still have to make some contribution towards your legal costs. You will not have to make any contribution, however, if your case comes within one of the categories where no means testing is required. You will also not have to make any contribution if your annual gross income is under NOK 100,000.
In cases where you are receiving free legal advice that does not relate to court proceedings, the contribution will be equivalent to the official fee rate (NOK 995 as of January 2016). In cases involving court proceedings, your contribution will be the lesser of 25% of the expenses or five times the official fee rate. Your advocate will invoice you for your contribution.
Free legal assistance abroad
All applications for free legal assistance abroad are dealt with by the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus.