Legal advice

This guidance explains where you may be able to get free legal advice about your case if you need to take an issue to tribunal.

Law Centres usually offer face-to-face legal advice to local residents, and during the coronavirus crisis many are running a telephone advice line. Find out if there is a law centre near you.

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).

Advocate can help find you a barrister who can provide you with specialist legal advice but they ask that you seek initial legal advice from a clinic or Citizens' Advice before approaching the Unit. 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.

To access the service, you need someone from an advice agency (such as a CAB or Law Centre), or a MP or practising lawyer to refer you. You need to send a completed application form (on paper, not email) at least three weeks before the hearing or deadline for the piece of work you want help with. You can find information about how to apply here: Advocate - do you need help?

If the casework team do not think that they have enough information in the application, they will ask you to supply more. Once the casework team is satisfied that they have enough information, the casework team will send your application to a senior barrister. The senior barrister’s job is to determine whether the Unit should find you a barrister. If they decide that the Unit should find you a barrister, the casework team will start looking for a barrister to help you. Because they rely on volunteers, they cannot guarantee to find someone to help you, but they will do their best.

Advocate finds barristers to assist you with a particular task in your case. So if your application is successful, you will receive help to do a specific task. After that, if you need further help you can apply again, providing at least three weeks' notice. 

 

Benefit appeal? 

If you haven't had any luck with organisations above, Shelter has a search facility on their website which you can use to find services that provide advice on benefits: Shelter - Advice finder.

Independent advice agencies will often be able to give you advice if you are taking a case to tribunal. See if there is an independent advice agency in your area on Advice UK’s site. Check that they can provide advice on your kind of problem before you make an appointment.

Citizens Advice can offer practical advice on lots of issues. During the coronavirus crisis local services are not offering face-to-face appointments but many are offering help over phone or email. Their contact us page allows you to search for your local Citizens Advice service, and provides 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. 

Gingerbread provides support and advice on benefit and tax credit issues to single parents. 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 all public holidays.

Going to an immigration or asylum support tribunal?

Asylum Aid provides free legal advice for asylum seekers and refugees. They can help with completing applications, claims, and appeals. Call 0207 7354 9264 or e-mail info@asylumaid.org.uk

Asylum Help UK can advise about asylum issues. They can advise you in your language from anywhere in the UK. Call: 0808 8000 630. Open Monday to Friday, 08:30 - 17:30.

Asylum Justice provides free legal services to asylum seekers and refugees in Wales in cases where legal aid is not available. Call: 029 2049 9421 or email: info@asylumjustice.org.uk

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). 

Rights of Women offers free, confidential legal advice for women in England and Wales on immigration and asylum law. Call: 020 7490 7689. Open Monday 12pm to 3pm, Thursday 10am to 1pm. You can find more details about this immigration law line here: Rights of Women - get advice (immigration and asylum law) 

UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group provides advice for lesbian and gay asylum seekers but only if you are already in the UK. Telephone: 020 7922 7811

Going to an Education related tribunal? 

National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) offers information, advice, advocacy and legal representation for children, young people and vulnerable adults in taking a claim to an education related tribunal. For information about how to contact the service, see NYAS legal services

Independent Parental Special Education Advice (known as IPSEA) offers help and support for people going to a tribunal about a decision concerning their child’s special educational needs, or a Disability Discrimination claim. An IPSEA Volunteer Adviser will give you next step advice on preparing your case. Find out more about the tribunal helpline and book an appointment online.

Coram Children’s Legal Centre offers a Child Law Advice Service where you can get free and confidential advice on specific questions you may have on education law if you do not have legal representation and live in England. The demand for the advice line is high, so they are only able to answer a limited number of calls. Therefore, make sure you read through the information on their website and only contact the support line with specific questions on the information provided. To contact them call: 0300 330 5485. Calls cost the same as calls to 01 and 02 numbers. They will be included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package. Lines are available Monday-Friday between 8am-6pm.  They also offer a paid-for call-back service between 8am-5.30pm Monday-Friday. There is a charge of £20 for a 30 minute advice call and then an additional charge of an extra £10 for each additional 15 minutes.

ACE Education Advice & Training provides independent advice and information for parents on education issues in England. See: Advisory Centre for Education - education adviceIf 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.

Contact a family run the Special Educational Needs (SEN) national advice service. Their education specialist advisers are available from Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.00pm to answer your query. Call 0808 808 3555, or post a query on Facebook. They can help with any aspect of education in England and Wales.

Disability Rights UK provides advice to disabled students studying in England. Call: 0800 328 5050. Line open Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am to 1pm. Or email:students@disabilityrightsuk.org 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 0845 120 3730 from a landline or 0345 120 3730 from a mobile or email them at: helpline@snapcymru.org. Line open Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4.30pm. 

Issues connected to a disability?

The Disability Law Service offers legal advice about employment issues over the phone to people who have a disability or impairment and live in Greater London. Call on 02077919800. Calls are free. Lines open Monday-Friday: 10am-2pm and 3pm-5pm. Or you can e-mail them:advice@dls.org.uk.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can provide advice for benefits appeals, and challenges to discrimination if you are blind or partially sighted (or if you are a carer or relative of someone with sight loss and need help to support them). Call 0303 123 9999 Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Calls cost the same as calls to 01 and 02 numbers. They will be included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package.  You can also e-mail your questions to legalrights@rnib.org.uk.

 

Going to an employment tribunal?

ACAS - Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service offers free advice on rights at work and employment law. Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday, 9am-1pm. Helpline number 0300 123 1100 or Text Relay: 18001 0300 123 1100. You can get helpline support in any language - just tell the person you talk to what language you speak.

The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) helpline advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality, across England, Scotland and Wales. Telephone: 0808 800 0082 Textphone: 0808 800 0084. Open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 10am-2pm. Their website offers a translation into Welsh facility, video information about their services for British Sign Language (BSL) users and the facility to speak to an adviser in BSL or text chat.

Employment Tribunal Litigant in Person Support Scheme (ELIPS) offers free advice and representation at four employment tribunals (see below). They can only help if you have already begun your claim. The scheme primarily helps litigants in person with preliminary hearings listed that day at that tribunal. At the London Central clinic, volunteers can advise you if you have a hearing  within 4 weeks, or you are within four weeks of receiving a directions order after a hearing.

  • London Central Employment Tribunal (once a week every Thursday, 9am to 4pm)
  • Cardiff Employment Tribunal (usually the third Friday of the month, 9.15am to 4pm)
  • Birmingham Employment Tribunal (usually the first Friday of the month, 9.15am to 4pm)
  • Bristol Employment Tribunal (usually the second Friday of the month, 9.15am to 4pm)

If you have not found a service that can help you see our Help Directory or go back to the Going to tribunal section.  

March 2020

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