Legal Aid SA widens access to legal services

As of the beginning of this month, Legal Aid South Africa’s means test was amended, enabling more people to qualify for legal aid.

Legal Aid SA provides independent, accessible and quality legal aid services in criminal and civil legal matters.

As a public entity, it receives its funding from Parliament, and as such, must ensure that the people who apply for legal aid do indeed qualify for this service. This is ascertained through a means test, which assesses a person’s income and the assets that they own.

Previously, Legal Aid SA assisted people who earned up to R5 500 per month, after tax. If the applicant lives in a household, the household had to earn less than R6 000 per month, after tax. If the applicant does not own immovable property, their movable assets could not be worth more than R100 000.

Finally, an applicant who is also a member of a household and who owns immovable property as well as immovable and movable assets to the value of R500 000 could apply for legal aid.

The amendment of the means test was deemed necessary, due to the impact of inflation as well as the rising cost of living. The amended means test has been increased as follows:

If you are applying for legal aid, your monthly earnings, after tax, must not exceed R7 400.

If you are a member of a household and are applying for legal aid, the household’s monthly income, after tax, must not exceed R8 000.

If you do not own immovable property, the value of your movable assets must not exceed R128 000.

If you are a member of a household and own immovable property as well as immovable and movable assets, the value of these assets must not exceed R640 000.

Any questions about these changes and further information on the means test can be directed to any Legal Aid SA local or satellite office, or to the toll-free advice line on 0800 110 110.

If you cannot call the advice line, send a Please Call Me to 079 835 7179 and someone from Legal Aid SA will call you back.