Many people ask this question, either because they know they are not eligible for legal aid or perhaps think they are not eligible, even though they have not checked this with a solicitor.

A recent study by Dr Charlotte Walker of York St John University revealed the following:

“In this study, in Court A, in 80 out of 220 (36%) hearings, the defendant appeared unrepresented; and in Court B, this was the case in 25 out of 183 (14%) hearings.

The defendants appeared without legal representation in 105 out of 403 (26%) hearings in total, which represents a significant minority.

Based upon the observations and interviews, this was due to a range of reasons including financial factors; defendants not wanting to delay proceedings; and defendants not seeing the value of having a lawyer.”

Whilst we accept that not everyone necessarily needs to be represented in court, if legal aid is available, then this is an entitlement, and it makes sense to ensure that all angles are covered. Ironically, some of the seemingly more basic cases, such as road traffic, often throw up the trickiest legal issues. According to Dr Walker, numerous studies have found that unrepresented defendants tend to struggle to represent themselves in court (Dell 1971, McBarnet 1981, Shapland 1981, Transform Justice 2016, Walker 2021).

Can I afford it?

If you are eligible for legal aid in the magistrates’ court, there is no cost to you. In the crown court, a contribution may be payable depending on your income. We can tell you in advance what the rules are in this regard.

Where legal aid is not available, many people are surprised at just how affordable “private representation” is. Many people have the idea that solicitors charge many hundreds of pounds per hour, and whilst a few do in corporate and commercial work, the pricing in criminal law is much more competitive and fixed fees are commonly offered for many cases. Representation can start at as little as £250+vat.

There is no one answer to funding your criminal case, but you should always contact us for free to find out your funding options in detail. There is nothing to lose by doing so.


How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence specialists on: 01376 511819