Legal advice

This guidance explains how you may be able to get free legal advice about your civil case.

The Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau can provide free ongoing legal advice if you are involved in any civil case in the County Court, High Court, or Court of Appeal across England and Wales.

Bankruptcy issues?

The Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau  also offer a drop-in service to advise on bankruptcy issues.You can access this service on a Monday to Friday, 10am -1pm by going to Room 1 on the ground floor of the Thomas More Building at the Royal Courts of Justice (address below).

If you live in London, you can book an appointment to see one of their solicitors at the Royal Courts of Justice. If you live outside of London, they can provide legal advice on the phone or by email. 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.  

Call 0203 475 4373. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 4.30pm. The service is busy, so it is advisable to call as early in the week as possible.

They can also provide help if you have permission to appeal to the High Court. Email, write to the address below, or call 0203 475 4373 between 9.30am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday to book an appointment.

Housing issue?

Shelter (England) gives advice over the phone about housing issues Call: 0808 800 4444. Open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, Saturday/Sunday 8am-5pm, 365 days a year. They also have 17 advice centres where you can get  face to face advice. For details call the Shelter Support Helpdesk on 0300 330 1234 or see Shelter advice centres

Shelter Cymru advise on housing issues in Wales. Call 0345 075 5005. Open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm. They also run advice surgeries across Wales. See Shelter Cymru - advice near you.

The RCJ Advice Bureau
Royal Courts of Justice

Law Centres offer free face-to-face legal advice to local residents, and some run a telephone advice line. Find out if there is a law centre near you.

LawWorks supports over 200 advice clinics that provide free initial legal advice to individuals on various areas of law including housing matters, community care, debt, personal injury, and consumer disputes. They can offer you 15-45 minutes to explain an issue and you can receive basic advice on the next steps to take. Some clinics may also offer to draft a letter.  in  order to use the time efficiently, please see What to bring to your appointment at a LawWorks clinic (PDF)Use their search to see if there is a clinic near you offering advice on the area of law you need help with. 

Citizens Advice can offer practical advice from over 3,500 locations including high streets, community centres, doctors' surgeries, courts and prisons. Search for your local Citizens Advice service. Call: 03444 111 444 (from England) and 03444 77 20 20 (from Wales). 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. 

The Bar Pro Bono Unit 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: Bar Pro Bono Unit - 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.

The Bar Pro Bono Unit 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.


Community care issues?

National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) offers advice, advocacy and legal representation for children, young people and vulnerable adults in community care. Call 0808 808 1001  Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm. Or email your questions to

The Disability Law Service provides free legal advice about community care over the telephone to people with disabilities and their carers. Call 020 7791 9800,  Monday-Friday 10am-2pm and 3pm-5pm.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) provide advice on community care issues and challenging discrimination if you are blind or partially sighted (or if you are a carer of someone with sight loss and need help to support them).  Call 0303 123 9999.  Lines open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Or e-mail Calls will be included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package. 

Discrimination issue?

The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) helpline advises 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 translation into Welsh and the facility to speak to an adviser in BSL or text chat.

Being taken to court over debt?

Debt Advice Foundation can give you advice about your debt problems over the phone. Telephone: 0800 043 40 50. Open Monday to Friday 08:00 – 20:00, Saturday 09:00 – 17:00. If you are calling from a mobile, let the advisor know and they will call you back.

The Money Advice Service runs a Money Advice Line on 0300 500 5000 (in English) or 0300 500 5555 (in Welsh). Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. Saturday, 9am to 1pm. Sunday and Bank Holidays, closed. To book a face-to-face Money Advice session in England phone 0333 321 3434 (call rates may vary) or book online. To book a face-to-face Money Advice session in Wales phone 0300 330 0520 (call rates may vary) or email Alternatively go to their website for their Web chat service.

National Debtline can give you advice 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 for their Web chat service.

StepChange Debt Charity can give you free 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.

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

October 2016

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