- Where to start
- Adult protection and safeguarding problems
- Benefits and tax credits
- Child protection and safeguarding problems
- Consumer problems
- Council tax problems
- Debt problems
- Discrimination, equality and human rights
- Domestic violence and abuse
- Employment problems
- Environmental problems
- Family problems
- Health and social care problems
- Housing problems
- Immigration, asylum and nationality
- Injuries and accidents
- Mental capacity and mental health
- Pension problems
- Planning problems
- Tax problems
- Representing yourself in court or tribunal
- Advice services for particular groups of people
- Find a lawyer
Where to start
There are lots of different ways you can get legal advice to help deal with a problem. Where to go depends on what type of problem you have, and what your situation is.
Will an Advice or Law Centre be able to help you?
During the coronanvirus crisis, all advice services will be busier than ever. Please only request help from an advice service after you have checked to see if our information service can help you understand your issue and what steps you should take.
- housing and homelessness
- employment problems
- consumer problems
- problems at work
- immigration problems
- getting services from your council.
Advicelocal is a UK-wide service from the advice charity Lasa. Advicelocal can help you find help with problems relating to welfare benefits and tax credits, council tax, including exemptions and discounts, debt and money advice, housing and homelessness, employment and work issues, disability and social care, and asylum and immigration. Enter your postcode, choose an advice topic from the drop down menu and search. This will tell you about any Citizen’s Advice, law centres, or independent advice agencies in your county. (Beware - it misses out ones near you but in another county or borough - some of which may be able to help you).
Citizens Advice is the national body for Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). See Contact Citizens Advice to find a CAB near you, details about their national helpline, and their chat and other services. Be aware that the national helpline is not free. Calls are charged at the same rate as calls to landlines.
LawWorks supports a network of over 280 free legal advice clinics that provide initial advice to individuals on various areas of law, including social welfare issues, employment, housing, and consumer disputes. During the coronavirus crisis, all clinics have closed face-to-face appointments. Use their search to see if there is a clinic near you offering advice on the area of law you need help with by phone, email or digitally. In order to use the time efficiently, please see What to bring to your appointment at a LawWorks clinic (PDF).
Civil Legal Advice may be able to give you free legal advice over the phone if you live on a low income or benefits about:
- debt, if your home is at risk
- housing, for example, if you are homeless or at risk of being evicted, serious disrepair or harrassment
- domestic violence or abuse
- separating from an abusive partner, when you’re making arrangements for children or sorting out money and property
- family issues, for example, family mediation, some child abduction cases, forced marriage or if your child is being taken into care
- special education needs
Telephone: 0345 345 4 345. Minicom: 0345 609 6677. Open Monday to Friday 09:00 – 20:00 and Saturday 09:00 -12:30pm. You can also text ‘legalaid’ and your name to 80010 to get a call back. This costs the same as a normal text message. There is a free translation service if English is not your first language. And you can book a British Sign Language interpreter if you are deaf or hard of hearing. For more detailed information about the kinds of cases you can get legal aid for see: Legal aid and advice.
Other options for these and other types of problems
If you are a member of a Trades Union you may have access to free or discounted legal services as part of your membership. Check your Union's website for details.
Check your motor, household contents and buildings insurance policies. You may find you have access to free legal advice on a range of subjects as part of your cover.
If not, and you need help with another type of problem, take a look at the sections below to see if there is specialist help available. Next, check the section below that covers advice services for particular groups of people and see if there is a group that you fit in to.
If there isn't, see the advice for finding a lawyer.
Adult protection and safeguarding problems
Hourglass runs a confidential freephone helpline, which provides information, advice and support to victims and others who are concerned about or have witnessed abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. This helpline is available throughout the UK. Call: 080 8808 8141. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Your call will not show up on your phone bill.
Benefits and tax credits
For help with benefits or tax credits, contact your local advice agency or Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
Advicelocal is a UK-wide service from the advice charity Lasa. Advicelocal can help you with questions relating to welfare benefits and tax credits. You just enter a postcode and choose an advice topic to find tailored information for your area, including details of independent advice organisations who can help you get the advice and support that you need.
Citizens Advice is the national body for Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Scroll down their homepage to search for a CAB near you. Citizens Advice also runs a national phone service, Adviceline: Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm (closed on public holidays). If you live in Wales call 03444 77 20 20. In England the service is still being rolled out in some areas. If it is not yet available in your area, you will hear options for recorded information: call 03444 111 444. Be aware that this is not a free helpline. Calls are charged at the same rate as calls to landlines. Citizens Advice also has an online chat service that you can find on their Contact us page. This service is available Monday - Friday, 7am - 8pm for debt problems and Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm for all other problems.
Gingerbread provides support and advice on benefit and tax credit issues. Call: 0808 802 0925. Open Mondays, 10am to 6pm, Wednesdays, 10am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm and Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays, 10am to 4pm. The helpline is closed on public holidays.
LawWorks connects people in need of legal advice and assistance with lawyers willing to meet those needs for free. It supports 170 legal advice clinics across England and Wales. The majority of these law clinics take place in the evening and provide free initial advice with a particular focus on social welfare issues, employment law, housing matters and consumer disputes. You can find a clinic here: LawWorks clinics network.
Child protection and safeguarding problems
If your family is involved with local authority children's services, or you need help from these services, then the Family Rights Group can give you information about what the law says and what procedures should be followed, discuss your options and support you to make realistic choices. Call for free and confidential advice: 0808 801 0366. Open Monday to Friday, 9.30am-3.00pm (closed on public holidays).
Coram Children's Legal Centre provides a child and family law service called Child Law Advice to children, their families and carers in England. Common areas of advice include local authority duties towards children and young people, care proceedings, child protection issues and special educational needs. Call: 0300 330 5480 for family law problems and 0300 330 5485 for education law problems. Open Monday to Friday, 8am - 6pm. They cannot advise you if you have a lawyer already. You can also book a callback from a member of their legal team, which is a paid-for service.
The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) can help children and young people in care who are not happy in their placement or who aren’t seeing their siblings as well as mothers who have experience of being in care and whose local authority is threatening to take their own children away. For infomation about how to contact the service, see NYAS legal services or call: 0808 808 1001. Line open Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm or email to email@example.com.
You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for free, confidential advice on consumer issues. Open Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00. Telephone: 0808 223 1133. You can talk to a Welsh-speaking adviser on 0808 223 1144.
Closed on public holidays.
Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0808 223 1133
You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.
For information about how to contact the consumer service online see: Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
Council tax problems
If you’re liable for council tax, you may be able to get help with your bill through your local council tax support scheme, or may qualify for an exemption or discount.
Advicelocal has information on council tax which is designed to help you find details of the support available to you locally. It gives you information about your rights and entitlements and details of independent advice organisations in your area who can help. Just type in your postcode and see what's available in your area.
Debt Advice Foundation can give you free, confidential advice about your debt problems over the phone. Telephone: 0800 043 40 50. Open Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm. If you are calling from a mobile, let the advisor know and they will call you back.
Money Helper (previously The Money Advice Service) has lots of information about managing your money with online tools and a service to find a debt adviser need you.
National Debtline can give you free, confidential advice and information about debt problems. Telephone: 0808 808 4000. Open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 9.30am-1pm. Alternatively go to their website to email them or to use their Web chat service.
StepChange Debt Charity can give you free, confidential advice about debt problems. Telephone: 0800 138 1111. Open Monday to Friday 8am–8pm, Saturday 8am–4pm. Alternatively go to their website to email them or for their Live chat service.
Discrimination, equality and human rights
The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) helpline advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights, across England, Scotland and Wales. Telephone: 0808 800 0082 Textphone: 0808 800 0084. Open Monday to Friday 9am-7pm, Saturday 10am-2pm. You can also email them using their online contact form.
Liberty gives advice on human rights. They have lots of information on their website. If you still can't find the answer to your problem after reading their information, you can call their advice line on 0800 988 8177. Open Tuesdays from 12pm to 2pm and on Thursdays from 4.30pm to 6.30pm.
Alternatively you can send in a written query using the form on their website under 'Get advice' if your query is about:
- Coronavirus laws and restrictions
- Police powers and conduct
- Protest rights
The Disability Law Service provides free confidential legal advice to people with disabilities and their carers about employment law and discrimination at work, community care law, housing and benefits. Call: 0207 791 9800, Monday - Friday 10am - 1pm and 2 - 5pm. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mind provides legal information and general advice on mental health related law covering mental health, mental capacity, community care and human rights and discrimination/equality related to mental health issues. You can contact the Legal Line by calling 0300 466 6463 between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday (closed on public holidays) or by emailing email@example.com.
Domestic violence and abuse
For support or to discuss your options you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or in Wales, Live Fear Free on 0808 8010 800. Both helplines are free, confidential, open for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are for anyone who is experiencing, or has experienced domestic abuse, or for anyone who is worried about domestic abuse happening to a friend, family member or colleague. You can also contact Live Fear Free by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the live chat service on their website. The National Domestic Violence Helpline offers translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors, from RCJ Advice in partnership with Rights of Women, offers legal advice for women experiencing domestic abuse face to face, over phone, facetime and email, as well as help to get an injunction. Call: 020 3745 7707 between 9am-5pm or email FLOWS@rcjadvice.org.uk.
FLOWS also has an online platform that assists with the completion of a non-molestation order. During the Coronavirus crisis you can access it directly without having to be referred by an organisation or the FLOWS team first. Create an account and it will direct you to accredited legal aid providers who can help you.
OnlyMums and OnlyDads who offer online support to parents going through divorce or separation have a Green Phone initiative where legal professionals offer a free phone call with any parent who is a victim of domestic abuse looking for advice. Look for the green phone symbol next to the names of professionals on their Family Law Panel.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation. Call: 0800 970 2070. Alternatively you can text: NCDV to 60777 and they will call you back.
Rights of Women offers free, confidential legal advice for women in England and Wales on family law matters (for example, about domestic violence and abuse, divorce, cohabitation, finances and property on relationship breakdown, parental responsibility and arrangements for children and lesbian parenting). For women in England and Wales, call: 020 7251 6577. Line open Monday to Thursday, 7pm to 9pm, Fridays 12pm to 2pm (closed on pulbic holidays). For women in London, call: 020 7608 1137. Line open: Mondays 10am - 12pm and 2pm to 4pm, Tuesdays 2pm - 4pm, Wednesdays 2pm - 4pm, Thursdays 10am - 12pm and 2pm to 4pm (closed on public holidays).
Men's advice line: If you are a man and experiencing domestic violence or abuse you can contact the Men's advice line on: 0808 801 0327. Open Monday - Friday, 9am - 8pm. If your first language isn't English, they can arrange access to a telephone interpreter. You can also email them at: email@example.com or go to their website for their Web chat service.
Galop provides confidential support to all members of the LGBT community experiencing domestic abuse, hate crime or sexual violence. Call: 0800 999 5428 (0800 numbers are free from landlines and included in some mobile provider inclusive minutes). Open Monday, Tuesday and Friday 10am - 5pm, Wednesday and Thursday 10am - 8pm. You can also email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Webchat is available Wednesday and Thursday 5pm - 8pm.
The Forced Marriage Unit runs a helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage. A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. If you are worried you might be forced into marriage or are worried about a friend or relative, you can call the Forced Marriage Unit on 0207 008 0151 (or +44 (0) 20 7008 0151 if you are calling from outside the UK) or email: email@example.com.
ACE Education Advice & Training provides independent advice and information for parents on education issues in England. See: Advisory Centre for Education - education advice. If you are the parent or carer of a child at school and you would like to talk to an adviser you can call the confidential telephone adviceline on 0300 0115 142. Open Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 1pm. Term time only.
IPSEA (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice) offers free and independent information, advice and support for parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in England. You find information about their free services and book an telephone appointment through their Advice Line on their website.
Child Law Advice provides specialist advice and information on child, family and education law to people living in England. For education law, call 0300 330 5485. Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
Contact is a charity for families with disabled children living in England and Wales. They can help you understand more about how special educational needs are identified and assessed, who is responsible for providing help for your child at school or college and how to access support for them there. Their education advisers are available from Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.00pm. Call: 0808 808 3555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The line is free to call from all UK landlines and mobiles. Beware - they cannot provide legal or medical advice.
Disability Rights UK provides advice to disabled students studying in England. Their advisors can also support students who are studying in Wales or Scotland with general information on the Equality Act, welfare benefits and access to Higher Education. Call: 0330 995 0414. Line open Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am to 1pm. Or email: email@example.com For details see: Disabled Students Helpline.
Snap Cymru provides information, advice and support to families in Wales in relation to the special educational needs of their children and young people. You can call their information and advice line on 0808 801 0608, Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4.30pm. Or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education Otherwise Association is a membership organisation, which provides support and information for families whose children are being educated outside school. If you have a home education related enquiry and need advice you can call: 0300 124 5690 Monday - Friday 10am-6pm or email: email@example.com.
ACAS - Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service offers free advice and guidance on rights at work and employment law. Helpline number: 0300 123 1100. Line open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm. You can also contact the helpline using Relay UK (this used to be called Text Relay) by dialling: 18001 0300 123 1100. You can get helpline support in any language - just tell the person you talk to what language you prefer to speak.
The Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit provides legal representation to victims of trafficking and labour exploitation. They can take on immigration, housing and compensation cases from across England and Wales related to these issues. They only take on cases referred by other agencies. So if you, or someone you know has been trafficked or is a victim of slavery, your local advice centre or community organisation should be able to help with referral.
The DRAW service provides mediation on employment issues to those experiencing bullying, conflicts or difficult relationships at work and who live in London. They can help people sort out their work problems without lodging a grievance or going to tribunal, which an be stressful and potentially worsens relationships. DRAW is funded by Trust for London and run by YESS Law - a specialist employment law charity based in London. DRAW provides one day of help for free, if you require more than one day, a charge will apply at a rate dependent on the mediator - speak to them for more information about this. If you would like to use DRAW, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3701 7535.
The Disability Law Service provides free confidential legal advice to people with disabilities and their carers about employment law and discrimination at work, community care law, housing and benefits. Call: 0207 791 9800, Monday - Friday 9.30am - 5.30pm or email: email@example.com. You can also contact them via their website and they will call or email you back.
If you need representation at an employment tribunal, you may be eligible for help from the Free Representation Unit. They can only help if your hearing is being heard in London, the South East of England or Nottingham and if you are referred to them by another agency. Check their website for more details on who can refer to them.
Maternity Action offers advice and information to help you understand and take up your rights and entitlements throughout your pregnancy, maternity leave and return to work. Contact the Maternity Rights Advice Line on: 0808 802 0029 or if you live in London call: 0808 802 0057. Lines are open Monday - Friday 10am - 1pm (London helpline is closed on Wednesdays). For advice about NHS charges and access to maternity care, contact the Maternity Care Access Advice Line on: 0808 800 0041. Line is open Wednesday and Thursday 10am - 12 noon.
The Modern Slavery Helpline offers callers who are potential victims help to consider their options, access crisis assistance, emotional support, help with access to social and legal services and help to connect with law enforcement agencies to get out of a situation and stay safe. If you don't speak English, they will connect you to an interpreter. Call 08000 121 700. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Protect provides free, independent and confidential legal advice to workers who are worried about wrong-doing at work and about whether or how to blow the whistle. Call: 020 3117 2520 or you can fill in an online contact form.
Working Families provides free and confidential advice to parents and carers about their employment rights including maternity and paternity leave, rights to time off in an emergency, parental leave and flexible working. They can also advise on benefits for families. You can call their Legal Helpline on 0300 012 0312 Monday - Friday 11 - 2pm (closed on bank holidays). Beware that calls are not free, but charged at the same rate as national landline calls.
YESS is a charity which provides legal advice to help you settle workplace disputes. Their aim is to help you avoid going to tribunal by negotiating for you. For most services you have to pay, but, in partnerhsip with the Fawcett Society, they offer free legal advice to people earning under £30,000 a year on issues around equal pay. You will have an equal pay issue if you know or suspect you are being paid less than a particular person of the opposite sex for the same work, and that the your sex is the reason you are being paid less. If you earn over £30,000 a year, you have to pay for advice. Call: 020 3701 7530 / 7531 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Environmental Law Foundation helps socially and economically disadvantaged communities to be heard on matters affecting the environment in which they live. Typical issues involve air and water quality, noise pollution, threats to wildlife habitat and biodiversity, use of public open spaces and threats to those spaces.
The Foundation provides free information and advice via in-house and university based law clinics, and a network of specialist environmental lawyers and technical experts.
Call: 0330 123 0169. Alternatively, you can fill in an online form or email email@example.com.
Family Lives runs a confidential helpline service for families in England and Wales (previously known as Parentline), giving emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life. Call: 0808 800 2222. Line open Monday to Friday, 9am - 9pm, and Saturday to Sunday 10am - 3pm.
Gingerbread offers support and expert advice on anything from dealing with a break-up, to going back to work or sorting out maintenance, benefits or tax credit issues. Call: 0808 802 0925. Monday 10am-6pm, Tuesday 10am-4pm, Weds 10am-1pm and 5pm-7pm, Thursday 10am-4pm, Fri 10am-4pm. Closed on public holidays. If you do not speak English as a first language, Gingerbread can call you back with an interpreter. Phone the helpline and tell the adviser which language you need and your phone number. They also provide lots of information and support forums on their website.
Expert advice from one of our panel
We have teamed up with Resolution to provide a panel of family law solicitors that can advise users of our most popular family law guides for a reduced, fixed fee. So far it is only available for users of:
- A survival guide to sorting out child arrangements
You can see up front exactly what areas of your case they can advise you on and how much their help will cost you - so that you can be certain you can afford it. Even better, we have designed a process to make getting this help as cheap as possible for you, by making sure that you use the solicitor’s time as efficiently as possible. See Expert advice from one of our panel for more information or go to one of the guides above.
RCJ Advice can provide free legal advice if you are involved in a family law case in England and Wales. During the coronavirus crisis they are asking anyone who wants to access their service to download the family triage form from their homepage, complete it, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not able to do that, phone the helpline and they will help you to complete the form. The helpline is 0203 745 8921 and is open Monday to Friday 9:30-1pm and 2-4:30pm. They will assess your advice needs and either make an appointment for you for the following week or give you details of who else can help you.
So many people need to use this service that they are only able to offer a maximum of three appointments to each person.
The Child Law Advice service is run by Coram Children's Legal Centre and provides a child and family law service to children, their families and carers in England. Common areas of advice include local authority duties towards children and young people, care proceedings, child protection issues and disputes about child arrangements. Call: 0300 330 5480. Open Monday to Friday, 8am - 6pm. They cannot advise you if you have a lawyer already. You can also book a callback from a member of their legal team, which is a paid-for service. You can also request advice via email by filling in a form about your issue on their website.
Rights of Women offers free, confidential legal advice for women in England and Wales on family law matters (for example, about domestic violence and abuse, divorce, cohabitation, finances and property on relationship breakdown, parental responsibility and arrangements for children and lesbian parenting). For women in England and Wales, call: 020 7251 6577. Line open Tuesday to Thursday, 7pm to 9pm, Fridays 12pm to 2pm (closed on pulbic holidays). For women in London, call: 020 7608 1137. Line open Monday and Thursday 10am -12 noon and 2pm -4pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 2pm - 4pm (closed on public holidays).
Kinship provides free, independent and confidential advice, information and support to grandparents and other family members or friends caring for children who can't be cared for by their parents. Call: 0300 123 7015. Line open Monday to Friday 9.30am - 2pm. Or, you can email email@example.com. If you have lost (or are losing touch) with grandchildren you can get advice and support from Family Lives.
Resolution is an member organisation that believes in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law problems. If you are trying to deal with a problem like a divorce, how to make arrangements for your children or sort out your finances when you separate, you may want to speak to a solicitor who is a member of Resolution. You can search for a member here: Find a Resolution member (for family law).
Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory Service) has lots of useful information for parents and young people involved in the family court.
OnlyMums offers online support to parents going through divorce or separation. The site has a free web chat facility and email exchange service. OnlyMums and OnlyDads run the Family Law Panel.
OnlyDads offers online support to parents going through divorce or separation. The site has a free web chat facility and email exchange service. OnlyMums and OnlyDads run the Family Law Panel.
The Family Law Panel (FLP) offers members of the public an initial information service free of charge. This enables families to better understand their situation and their options for the future. The Panel also offers a "reduced fees scheme" for individuals earning (as a guide) less than £20,000 per year and with less than £20,000 in accessible savings. Professionals offering advice under this scheme charge around £125 per hour (plus VAT) and can be identified on the website by a green disc.
Health and social care problems
If you are elderly, disabled or have an illness, you may be able to get help with your social care needs, including help from your local council. Advicelocal has a section on disability and social care help you find details of the support available to you locally; national information about your rights and entitlements; and details of independent advice organisations in your area who can help you get the help that you need. Just type in your postcode and see what's available in your area.
The Disability Law Service provides free legal advice to people with disabilities and their carers about community care law. Call: 0207 791 9800. Open Monday to Friday 09.30am to 5.30pm or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. They can currently advise on:
- Community Care Law
- Employment and discrimination at work
- Welfare benefits
The Maternity Care Access Advice Service run by Maternity Action provides telephone and email advice and online information to help women get the maternity care they need, to advise women on whether they have to pay for their NHS maternity care and to help women to deal with problems relating to charging. All calls are free of charge and telephone interpreting is available. The service is confidential. Call: 0808 800 0041 (Freephone) on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10am-12pm. Or, you can fill in an online form and they will reply by email to help with your issue.
The Patients Association helpline provides free, confidential specialist information, advice and signposting about health and social care. Their advisers cannot give medical or legal advice. Call: 0800 345 7115, Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm. Calls outside these times will be answered as soon as possible if you leave a message with your telephone number or you can email: email@example.com
Solicitors For the Elderly is an independent, national organisation of lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers, and chartered legal executives who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers. You can search for an accredited member of their organisation near you on their website.
Shelter (England) gives advice over the phone about urgent housing problems. Call: 0808 800 4444. Open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, Saturday/Sunday 9am-5pm, 365 days a year. Calls are free from UK landlines and all major UK mobile operators. They ask that you look at their online advice first or use their webchat service before you call the helpline due to high demand.
Shelter (England) also some advice centres where you can get personal, face to face advice. You can use your postcode to search for a centre local to you: Shelter advice centres. This service is suspended at the moment due to Coronavirus.
Shelter Cymru can advise on housing problems if you live in Wales. If you problem is urgent call: 08000 495 495. Open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm (Freephone). They ask you to read their online advice and chat to an adviser through their webchat first. Shelter Cymru also runs advice surgeries across Wales. To find out when there is an adviser in your area, see: Shelter Cymru - advice near you. Face to face advice is currently suspended due to Coronavirus.
Immigration, asylum and nationality
The AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) may be able to help you if you have a query concerning EU law, for example, if you have a question about your residence status or right to access benefits) or you have a query about making an application to the European Court of Human Rights. To find out if the centre can help you, you can either email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7831 4276. Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:30am - 6pm (closed on public holidays). For more information see,: The AIRE Centre - legal advice.
Asylum Justice provides free legal services to asylum seekers and refugees in Wales in cases where legal aid is not available. At the moment they cannot take new clients due to Coronavirus impacting on staff but the situation may soon so if you need the help they offer in Wales be sure to check their website.
The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) specialises in asylum support appeals and gives free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers at the First Tier Tribunal (Asylum Support). This is called the ASAP Duty Scheme. If you are an asylum seeker, have an appeal at the Asylum Support Tribunal and need help on the day of your hearing they may be able to represent you for free. You need to fill in a client authority form and email it to email@example.com or fax it to 0203 716 0272. If you have any questions about making a referral, call 07950 977701. Please note that you cannot get legal advice by calling this number.
Bail for Immigration Detainees helps people in immigration detention (whether in prison or a removal centre) by advising them how to apply for bail. To contact them, call: 020 7456 9750. Line open Monday to Thursday, 10am to 12pm. You can leave a message outside these times. You can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are detained in an Immigration Removal Centre you can ask for a free, 30 minute appointment with a solicitor from one of the legal aid firms visiting your removal centre. There will be a number of firms visiting on a rota basis, meaning that different lawyers visit each week. You can find information about the current rotas and how to make an appointment here: Information for detainees - how can I find an immigration lawyer?
The Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA) has a directory of their members on their website. You can search this to find an immigration adviser near you: ILPA directory
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants only provides free, confidential legal advice in very limited circumstances:
- If you are in the UK without documentation (an 'undocumented migrant') call: 020 7553 7470. Line open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am to 1pm.
- If you are a foreign national in a UK prison and need immigration advice you can call their free and confidential helpline on: 020 7251 8708.
- If you are a member of the trades union UNISON, you can get free initial advice on all aspects of immigration law. Contact the union and ask them to get in touch with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants on your behalf to arrange a phone call.
Kalayaan gives free employment and immigration advice to migrant domestic workers in the UK, for example, if you have a problem with your employer, you have left an employer who is keeping your passport, or you just want to understand more about your rights. Call: 020 7243 2942 to make an appointment.
The Migrant Children’s Project, run by the Coram Children's Legal Centre, provides one-off specialist legal advice on all issues affecting migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children and young people, whether they are separated or in families. Advice is provided by email only: email@example.com.
Migrant Help can advise you about claiming asylum, the asylum process, asylum support, accessing healthcare and any other asylum issues. They can advise you, for free, in your language from anywhere in the UK. Call: 0808 8010503 - helpline is open 24/7, 365 days a year.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) regulates immigration advisers. You can find a regulated immigration adviser here: Find an immigration adviser or call OISC on 0345 000 0046.
The Refugee Council provides help and support to asylum seekers and refugees: Refugee Council - How can we help you?
Rights of Women offers free, confidential legal advice for women in England and Wales on immigration and asylum law (for example, about the rights of Europeans and their families in the UK, claiming asylum, trafficking, domestic violence and immigration law). They have different helplines depending on what your problem is. For more information go to Rights of Women - get advice (immigration and asylum law)
Injuries and accidents
Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) provides free and confidential advice and support to people affected by medical accidents. Please see if you can find the information you need on their website first before you call the helpline. If you cannot find what you need there is an online help form or call the helpline on: 0845 123 2352. Line open Monday to Friday, 10am - 3.30pm. Please note this is not a freephone number.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) campaigns to change the law, protect and enhance access to justice, and improve the services provided for people who have been injured in road accidents, accidents at work or medical accidents. You can search for the best injury lawyer for you on their website or call: 0115 943 5400. Line open 9am - 5pm week days (closed on public holidays).
Mental capacity and mental health
Mind provides legal information on mental health related law covering mental health, mental capacity, community care and human rights and discrimination/equality related to mental health issues. You can contact the Legal Line by calling 0300 466 6463 between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday (closed on public holidays) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Law Society's Mental Health Accreditation Scheme can help you find a lawyer who is competent in mental health law. You can download a list of currently accredited scheme members from here: Mental Health Accreditation Scheme. To find the list go down to the section called 'Current members'.
MoneyHelper (previously Pensions Advisory Service) has a section with guides on pensions issues. Their help, from pension specialists, is impartial and free - online or over the phone.
You can call their Helpline: 0800 011 3797. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Closed on bank holidays. Or you can fill in an online help form or use their webchat. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. Closed on bank holidays
Planning Aid England runs a free advice service offering a limited amount of general advice on planning related issues in England by email. To access this, go to their website and fill in their online enquiry form. They also have online resources which deal with all aspects of the planning system in England.
Planning Aid Wales has free planning advice on its website. It also offers a free advice service to assist members of the public and community groups needing help with a planning matter. The Helpline service provides three different levels of assistance – information, advice or support. The level of service available depends on the eligibility of the person, group or business seeking assistance. There is guidance on the website to work out which service is best for you and what you might be eligible for.
TaxAid helps people on a low income with a tax problem if HMRC can't sort it out. As a guideline, a low income is up to about £380 a week before tax for a single person – equivalent to £20,000 per year. TaxAid does not advise on tax credits, council tax, welfare benefits, corporation tax or give tax planning advice. TaxAid asks that you look at their online resources to answer your problem first before calling their helpline. Helpline: 0345 120 3779. Open Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm. There is also an online contact form you can fill in if phoning is difficult for you. It can take up to 14 days for a reply via the online contact form.
If you are on low income, not self employed and aged 60 or over, contact Tax Help for Older People. Call: 01308 488066 Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm or you can email them at: email@example.com. They also have an online contact form you can fill in. They aim to answer these queries within 3-5 working days.
Representing yourself in court or tribunal
If you are representing yourself in court or at a tribunal (someone doing this is often called a Litigant in Person), or thinking about it, there may be free help and advice you can get at different stages of your case. Here we explain what each service can help you with and how you can access them.
What kind of help do you need?
There are different kinds of organisations offering different kinds of help. We know it's incredibly frustrating when you can't find help or finally get an appointment only to realise the person you are speaking to can't help you in the way you had hoped. So here's our explanation of the types of help you may be able to get. If you are thinking of taking a case to court or tribunal, different types of help are likely to be helpful at different times.
When we say an organisation offers legal advice we mean that they have specialist legal knowledge and are trained to give advice about your specific case, help you work out if it's worth taking it to court, and explain court procedures, and rules.
By representation, we mean that somebody can come with you to your court or tribunal hearing and speak on your behalf.
When we say an organisation offers emotional support we mean that they can provide someone to talk to and someone to come to court with you to support you.
By practical advice we mean that they can help you with practical tasks that don’t require in-depth specialist legal knowledge – for example, they can help you organise your papers and your thoughts, explain what happens in court, and refer you to legal advice agencies.
Information is general guidance – often as leaflets, guides, websites or short films. It can explain processes, or the law, and the best information can help you work out what to do, and how to do it, but is not tailored to your exact situation.
Who can help?
Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau
You can get free legal advice from the RCJ Advice Bureau if you are involved in a civil or family case in the County Court, High Court or Court of Appeal across England and Wales. Their solicitors can give legal advice on things like how to complete forms, what steps to take, and how to reply to court papers. They can also arrange mediation or representation.
So many people need to use this service that they are only able to offer a maximum of three appointments to each person.
During the coronavirus pandemic all appointments were happening over telephone or videochat. Some face to face appointments are now available. Look at the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau website for the latest details of how to access their services.
FLOWS for women survivors of domestic abuse and front line workers supporting women survivors can be contacted at 0203 745 7707 or FLOWS@rcjadvice.org.uk
Support Through Court
Support Through Court aims to help you represent yourself more confidently in court, by providing practical advice, information and emotional support in civil courts. Support Through Court volunteers can help you fill in forms, organise your papers and your thoughts, and refer you to organisations who can give you legal advice or representation.
During the coronavirus pandemic the face-to-face services have been closed but they have a national helpline staffed by volunteers. Support Through Court can offer remote support by phone, video-platform and e-mail, and are still able to help people in remote hearings. Please check the website for details of service hours. Where court hearings are taking place face to face, Support Through Court will also offer meetings face to face - if they have volunteers at that court building.
Advocate (formerly named The Bar Pro Bono Unit) can help find you a barrister who can provide you with free advice or representation at court anywhere in England and Wales. They can help with any legal issue as long as you are not eligible for legal aid and don't have enough money to pay for legal help.
There are two ways to get help: you can be referred by an advice agency (such as a CAB or Law Centre), an MP or practising lawyer or you can apply directly online using their form and uploading your documents with it. You need to send a completed application form at least three weeks before the hearing or deadline for the piece of work you want help with.
Legal help is provided for one piece of work at a time, for example, you could be approved for some free legal advice, and then maybe some free representation depending on the outcome of the advice. Find out more about how it works and find the online form.
Once you have submitted your application, it is assessed by the casework team to make sure there is enough information about your case for a reviewer to decide if you are eligible for free help. The team may ask you for more documents or information if the form is not complete. Once the casework team is satisfied that they have enough information, your application will be sent to a senior reviewer to decide if your case fits the financial and legal merits. If the reviewer decides you are eligible and the work will take three days or less, the Advocate team will start looking for a barrister to help you. Because they rely on volunteers, they cannot guarantee to find someone, but they will do their best. If they can't find someone, they will let you know before your hearing.
Advocate finds barristers to help you with a particular task in your case. They cannot find someone to take a whole case for free. So if your application is successful, you will receive help for that specific task. After that, if you need further help you can apply again, providing at least three weeks' notice.
The Free Representation Unit (FRU)
The Free Representation Unit (FRU) offers legal representation to people who cannot get legal aid and can’t afford a lawyer. They may be able to represent you if you have a case at an Employment tribunal, a benefits appeal at a Social Security tribunal or a Criminal Injuries Compensation tribunal. The service is only available if you have a hearing date at a tribunal in London and the South East or Nottingham. You have to be referred to the FRU by another agency, such as Citizens Advice.
Their help is still being offered remotely - by phone or video call but they hope to offer some face to face advice soon.
LawWorks supports around 200 advice clinics that provide free initial legal advice to individuals on various areas of law including social welfare issues, employment law, housing matters and consumer disputes. If you are thinking of taking a case to court, get advice first. A clinic will be able to advise you of other possible options, if it is worth it, and what your first steps might be. Some clinics may also be able to draft a letter for you.
During the coronavirus pandemic, all clinics have been closed to face-to-face appointments. Some clinics are now starting to open and offer face-to-face appointments.
See if there is a clinic near you that is providing telephone, email or digital help: LawWorks clinics network
See their guidance on what you should have ready if you have an appointment remotely: What to bring to a legal advice clinic
Advicenow produces free high-quality guides for people representing themselves that explain what you need to do and, most importantly, show you how to do it. Our guides also explain all the legal terms and help with the skills and confidence you need. We don’t have guides to help with every issue but we add more resources as often as we can.
Our Top Picks Service also provides handpicked links to the best help available elsewhere on the web. You are on our website now. Go back to the Going to court section to see our most useful resources for people representing themselves at court or tribunal.
Expert help from a solicitor on our panel
We have teamed up with Resolution to provide a panel of family law solicitors that can advise users of our most popular family law guides for a reduced, fixed fee. So far it is only available for users of:
- A survival guide to sorting out child arrangements
You can see up front exactly what areas of your case they can advise you on and how much their help will cost you - so that you can be certain you can afford it. Even better, we have designed a process to make getting this help as cheap as possible for you, by making sure that you use the solicitor’s time as efficiently as possible. See About Expert help from one of our panel of family solicitors for more information or go to one of the above guides.
Advice services for particular groups of people
There are lots of charities and other organisations who run advice services for particular groups of people, for example:
- Age UK provides information and advice to older people, and their friends and relatives. You can find your local Age UK service here: Find your local Age UK service or contact Age UK Advice on 0800 678 1602. Line open 8am to 7pm 365 days a year.
- Age Cymru Advice provides information and advice to older people, and their relatives, friends and carers in Wales. You can contact Age Cymru Advice and talk to someone in Welsh or English on 0300 303 44 98. Line open Monday to Friday. 9am to 4pm.
- The Disability Law Service provides free legal advice over the telephone about employment, disability discrimination, community care, and welfare benefits to people with disabilities and their carers.
- The Eastern European Resource Centre provides free advice to Central and Eastern European migrants. Check their website for details of helplines and times as they vary depending on which language you would like to speak in.
- Gingerbread offers support and expert advice on anything from dealing with a break-up, to going back to work or sorting out maintenance, benefits or tax credit issues. They have information pages, a forum, single parent groups, helpline webchat and a helpline. If you do not speak English as a first language, Gingerbread can call you back with an interpreter. Phone the helpline and tell the adviser which language you need and your phone number. They ask you to try and find the answers on their website before you call the helpline due to high demand. Helpline: 0808 802 0925. The opening times are: Mondays: 10am to 6pm, Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays: 10am to 4pm, and Wednesdays: 10am-1pm and 5pm-7pm. The helpline is closed on all public holidays.
- Gypsies, Roma and Travellers and their families can get legal advice from Friends Families and Travellers - a national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background - about planning, education, accommodation, health and discrimination issues. Call: 01273 234777 Line open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4.30pm. Closed on bank holidays.
- Mind has services for people with mental health problems.
- The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society funds the MS legal advice line to provide free confidential legal advice to people affected by MS in England and Wales on employment, disability discrimination, goods and services, community care and welfare benefits. Call: 020 7791 9800 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) offers a specialist legal service for children, young people and vulnerable adults in the area of family law. For information about how to contact the service, see NYAS legal services or call: 0808 808 1001 or email to email@example.com.
- The Prisoners' Advice Service offers free legal advice and support to adult prisoners in England and Wales. You can get in touch with them by calling 020 7253 3323 Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10:00-12:30 and 14:00-16:30; Tuesday Evening 4pm - 6pm. You can contact them through their online form which is checked daily. Or you can write to: Prisoners’ Advice Service, PO Box 46199, London EC1M 4XA
- The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can help you with employment and discrimination issues relating to sight loss. They can also advise you if you are the relative or carer of someone with sight loss, and need help to support them. Telephone 0303 123 9999. Line open Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm.
- Students' Unions - if you are a student, your student union may run a student advice centre that provides information, advice and in some circumstances representation. Check your student union website for details.
- Working Families provides services for people who work and care for children. Their Legal Helpline gives parents and carers advice on in work benefits and employment rights such as maternity and paternity leave, rights to time off in an emergency, and parental leave, as well as helping them to negotiate the flexible hours they want. Call: 0300 012 0312 Monday - Friday 11am- 2pm or you can fill in their online advice contact form and they will get back to you within 10 working days.
- Youth Access – you can use their website to search for services that provide information, advice, counselling and support to young people in your area: Find your local service for young people
Find a lawyer
For some legal problems, you may need the help of a solicitor. Different solicitors specialise in different legal problems. You should always try to get a solicitor who specialises in dealing with problems like yours.
You can search for a solicitor on the Law Society website here: Find a solicitor in England and Wales.
You can also search for a solicitor who does legal aid in your area here: Find a legal aid adviser or family mediator.
Law Centres are staffed by both solicitors and other workers who specialise in helping people with employment, immigration, education, housing, community care, and benefit problems. Law Centres usually only help people who work or live in their area. Find a Law Centre near you.
Some barristers take queries or cases direct from members of the public. They are called ‘public access’ barristers. The Bar Council has a directory of public access barristers on its website, at: Public access to barristers.