When one is suspected of committing an offence or needs to appear before a judge for dispute resolution, they often need legal assistance. Getting reliable legal advice can be quite overwhelming, considering modern-day legal charges can run quite high in hourly fees. Luckily, there are various options one can pursue regarding free or low-cost legal services. Where can I get free legal advice in South Africa?
PAY ATTENTION: Follow Briefly News on Twitter and never miss the hottest topics! Find us at @brieflyza!
What happens if you can't afford a lawyer in South Africa? Numerous organizations and bodies in South Africa provide free legal assistance to qualified recipients. This makes the quest for justice easier for people with financial constraints.
How to get free legal advice in South Africa
How can I get free legal advice in South Africa? Here is a look at the essentials of accessing free legal services in South Africa.
What is legal aid?
It is the provision of assistance to persons who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the justice system. Legal aid is typically regarded as essential in providing access to justice by ensuring the right to a fair trial, the right to counsel, and equality before the law.
PAY ATTENTION: Never miss breaking news – join Briefly News' Telegram channel!
Who qualifies for legal aid?
Any person living in South Africa can approach Legal Aid if their cases are civil, involve children, or involve asylum seekers. Civil cases of non-citizens don't qualify for legal aid. To get legal aid, you have to pass a 'means test', proving that you earn less than an amount determined by the Legal Aid Board. The amount is reviewed every year, and the following is considered:
- If you own a home, its total value and everything else that you own should not be worth over R640,000. Also, you must only have one house where you stay.
- If you are not a homeowner, then the total value of everything that you own, including furniture, car, clothes, and other personal stuff, should not exceed R128,000.
- If the legal aid seeker is receiving a state grant, it is mandatory to take the means test. You will also be required to present official documentation proving that you are receiving a pension or state grant.
- Children: In criminal cases, children automatically qualify for legal aid and don't have to take the means test. If it's a civil case, the family of the child will need to take and pass the means test.
- Those who are elderly are not required to take the means test but must prove that they are receiving a pension or state grant.
How can I get legal aid?
Typically, one has to apply for legal aid by contacting the bodies that provide these legal services. The contact options include telephone, email, and office visits.
Where can I get legal aid?
How can I talk to a lawyer for free in South Africa? Here is a look at the different places one can get legal advice for free in South Africa.
Legal Aid South Africa
This organization provides professional legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford it. It was created to help vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly, the disabled and the rural poor. If you are looking for free online legal advice in South Africa, feel free to contact Legal Aid South Africa through the options outlined below.
- Telephone: 0800 110 110
- Please call me number: 079 835 7179
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides the main offices, Legal Aid South Africa also has offices in different universities. Legal aid seekers can visit these institutions for free advice.
University of Stellenbosch (US) Legal Aid Clinic
- Location: 18-24 Crozier Street, Stellenbosch.
- Email: email@example.com
- Fax: 021 808 3720
- Telephone: 021 808 3600 / 3432
University of Cape Town (UCT) Law Clinic
- Location: Room 4.39 Wilfred and Jules Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax: 021 650 5665
- Telephone: 021 650 3775
University of the Western Cape (UWC) Legal Aid Clinic
- Location: Old Library Building, University of the Western Cape Campus, Modderdam Road, Bellville.
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 021 959 3291
Pro Bono attorneys
Where can I get free legal advice online chat in South Africa? One of the best options is through a pro bono attorney. Pro bono is a Latin phrase derived from a longer one, 'pro bono publico', which loosely translates to 'for the public good.'
The term generally refers to services that are rendered by a professional for free or at a lower cost. Numerous South African attorneys and law firms offer free legal help to people who have a legal problem that holds merit. A means test will be done to determine whether one qualifies for the assistance of a pro bono attorney.
In South Africa, one can employ the services of the ProBono organization. Here is a look at the organization's contacts.
- Location: Suite 200, 57 Strand Street, Cape Town, 8001
- Telephone: 087 806 6070/1/2
- Fax: 086 665 6740
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
South African Society for Labour Law
The South African Society for Labor Law provides legal advisory services to people with challenges accessing the justice system. The body is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the advancement of modern labour law.
- Telephone 1: 021 704 0561
- Telephone 2: 065 216 2542
- Email: email@example.com
Family Law Clinic
The Family Law Clinic is a South African NGO that provides free legal advice for matters related to family law. The body's services cover numerous domestic issues, including those outlined below.
- Abuse of the aged
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence
- Maintenance issues
- Marital conflict
You can contact the Family Law Clinic through the following avenues.
Somerset West clinic
- Location: 3 Griselda Close, Somerset West
- Telephone: 021 851 5504
- Fax: 021 851 7506
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cape Town clinic
- Telephone: 021 851 5504
- Fax: 021 894 5051
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 021 851 5504
- Fax: 021 851 7506
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawyers for Human Rights
If you are looking for human rights-related 24-hour free legal advice in South Africa, then Lawyers for Human Rights is the organization to turn to. The organization provides free services to indigent individuals, marginalized people, and vulnerable groups who are the victims of infringements of their constitutional rights.
You can contact the Lawyers for Human Rights through:
- Location: 4th floor, Vunani Chambers, 33 Church Street, City Centre, Cape Town
- Telephone: 021 424 8561
- Fax: 021 424 7135
Several South African universities have legal aid centres. The services in these institutions are typically provided by law students under the supervision of a qualified lawyer. Here is a look at the universities that currently provide free legal services.
- Potchefstroom University
- Rand Afrikaans University
- Rhodes University
- University of Cape Town
- University of Durban-Westville
- University of Fort Hare
- University of Natal (Durban)
- University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg)
- University of Port Elizabeth
- University of Pretoria
- University of South Africa
- University of Stellenbosch
- University of the North West
- University of the Orange Free State
- University of the Western Cape
- University of the Witwatersrand
- University of Venda
- University of Zululand
- Vista University (Bloemfontein Campus)
Is legal aid free in South Africa?
Those who qualify for aid receive full representation from Legal Aid South Africa. If you lose the case, the organization representing you will incur all the charges. If you win a civil case, they will deduct the money that the court grants to pay for costs and benefits before paying the money owing to you.
What happens if I don't qualify for legal aid?
If you fail to merit the means test, then you will need to seek alternative ways. If you are still unable to find reliable legal representation due to financial constraints, then you should consider the options below.
- Community legal clinics: Community clinics are small organizations with lawyers and trained workers who can give you solid advice and represent you in a court of law.
- Duty counsel: If your case is already in court, lawyers at the courthouse called duty counsel can greatly assist.
- Student Legal Aid Services Societies (SLASS): Student aid services are available at various universities and law schools. The services in these institutions are typically provided by volunteer law students under the supervision of a full-time lawyer.
- Boldly represent yourself in court: One can choose to represent themselves in court. Before doing this, make sure to research intensively on matters related to your case.
Do Solicitors still give 30 minutes free advice?
Some solicitors give 30 minutes of legal advice for free. However, keep in mind that not all solicitors do this. You can call a solicitor's office and ask if they offer a free half-hour consultation.
Figuring out where to get free legal advice in South Africa can come in handy when you do not have the financial capacity to hire a lawyer. Luckily, there are numerous bodies that one can turn to when they need free legal advice or representation.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
Briefly.co.za recently created a guide on checking whether a company is registered in South Africa. The business landscape in South Africa is quite wide and dynamic, with thousands of organizations in different economic sectors. Most of the firms operate legally per the country's business registration laws. Others, however, are not registered.
There are numerous reasons you may want to do a background check on a company. Some of the most common reasons include conducting business deals, buying shares, or issuing credit. Read on to discover how you can ascertain whether a company is registered or not.
Source: Briefly News