Free legal assistance
What is it?
It is a formality that, in implementation of Article 119 of the Spanish Constitution, grants those who can demonstrate lack of sufficient financial means, a series of benefits consisting mainly of exemption from the payment of fees corresponding to lawyers and court lawyers, expenses derived from expert testimonies, bonds, etc.
The right to free legal assistance covers, broadly speaking, the following benefits:
- Free advice and guidance prior to the start of the proceedings.
- Assistance of a lawyer for the arrested individual or prisoner.
- Free defence and representation by a lawyer and court lawyer during the legal proceedings.
- Free publication of the announcement or edicts, in the course of the proceedings, which must be prescriptively published in official newspapers.
- Exemption from the payment of deposits for the lodging of appeals.
- Free assistance from experts during the proceedings.
- Free procurement of copies, testimonies, writs and notary certificates.
- Eighty percent reduction in tariffs corresponding to certain notary actions.
- Eighty percent reduction in tariffs corresponding to certain actions carried out in relation to the Land and Company Registers.
Who can request it?/present
Citizens who, while engaged in or intending to initiate any kind of legal action, lack sufficient assets to litigate, may apply for free legal aid.
The right to free legal aid is recognised for those individuals who lack sufficient assets and have a gross annual household income, computed for all items, falling below the following thresholds.
- Twice the Multi-Purpose Public Income Index (IPREM, per its Spanish initials) in force when the application is made in the case of people who are not part of a household. (By 2016 12.780,26€)
- Two and a half times the Multi-Purpose Public Income Index (IPREM, per its Spanish initials) in force when the application is made in the case of individuals from a household type with less than four members. (By 2016 15.975,33€)
- Three times the IPREM in the case of households made up of four or more members. (By 2016 19.170,39€)
The following are the household types:
- Households made up of spouses who are not legally separated and, as applicable, underage children, except those who are emancipated.
- Households made up of one parent and any children who meet the conditions outlined in the preceding rule.
Specifically, the following shall be entitled to free legal assistance:
- Spanish citizens, natives of other European Member States and foreigners resident in Spain, when they can demonstrate insufficient means for litigation.
- Management Entities and Social Security Common Services.
- The following entities, when they can demonstrate insufficient means for litigation:
- Public Interest Associations.
- Foundations registered in the corresponding Administrative Register.
- In the social jurisdiction: all employees and beneficiaries of the Social Security system.
- In the criminal jurisdiction: all citizens, even foreigners, who can demonstrate insufficient means for litigation, even when they do not legally reside in Spain, shall be entitled to free legal assistance and defence and representation.
- In the contentious-administrative jurisdiction: all foreign citizens who can certify insufficient means for litigation, even when they do not reside legally in Spain, shall be entitled to free legal assistance in all proceedings relative to their application for asylum and the Aliens' Law (including preliminary administrative proceedings).
Requirements for applying for free justice benefits
The litigation must be in defence of one's own rights and interests, or of those of others when grounded in legal representation. In the latter case, the requirements for obtaining free legal aid shall apply to the represented party.
Regardless of the existence of sufficient resources to litigate, the right to free legal aid is recognised for, and shall be provided immediately to, victims of gender violence, terrorism and human trafficking in any prosecutions that are linked to, arise from or are the consequence of their status as victims, and minors and the mentally disabled when they are victims of situations of abuse or neglect.
Regardless of the existence of sufficient resources to litigate, the right to free legal aid is recognised for those who, due to an accident, can prove permanent consequences that completely prevent them from performing the duties of their regular job or profession and who require the help of other people to perform essential daily activities, when the object of the litigation is a claim for compensation for personal injury and moral damages.
- They must be associations declared of public interest or foundations registered in the corresponding Administrative Register.
- Their taxable amount for Corporate Tax must be less than the amount equivalent to three times the annual calculation of the IPREM.
THE IPREM (Multi-Purpose Public Income Index) AS PER THE LPGE (General State Budget Act) OF 2016 AMOUNTS TO: €17.75 DAILY; €532.51 MONTHLY; €6,390.13 ANNUAL. (EIGHTY-FOURTH ADDITIONAL PROVISION OF LAW 48/2015, OF 29 OCTOBER GENERAL STATE BUDGETS 2016, BOE OF 30 OCTOBER).
How to request it/present
- REAL DECRETO 1455/2005, de 2 de diciembre, por el que se modifica el Reglamento de asistencia jurídica gratuita, aprobado por el Real Decreto 996/2003, de 25 de julio. (PDF. 373 KB)
- Law 40/2003, of 18 November, on Protection of Large Families
- Law 1/1996, of 10 January, on Free Legal Assistance (Spanish Official Gazette of 12 January)
- Royal Decree 996/2003, of 25 July, approving the Free Legal Assistance Regulation (Spanish Official Gazette of 7 August)
- Royal Decree-Law 3/2013