Updated: Oct 31, 2019
If you have to go to court and you don’t have the money to confront all the costs involved, in Spain you can claim free legal aid under certain circumstances. This service is called “Asistencia Juridica Gratuita” and is also available for all European citizens, regardless whether you’re a resident in Spain or not.
First, let’s have a look at the costs of a trial. In Spain the public service of the Justice Administration is free. There are no fees or charges for using the service. However, going to court commonly entails certain costs. These mainly include:
solicitors’ and barristers’ feescosts of publishing announcements in official journalsdeposits required for lodging certain appealsexperts’ fees
These costs normally have to be paid up front by the party concerned. At the end of the trial the court has to decide which party is ultimately to bear the costs; in Spain this is known as the “condena en costas” (order to pay costs) and it is governed by the “loser pays” principle.
Free legal aid is available for all cases involving sums of over 900 €. In cases involving smaller sums, for which the services of a solicitor and barrister are not compulsory, legal aid may be granted where the other party does have legal representation or where explicitly called for by the judge or court to ensure that the two parties are on an equal footing.
In certain cases legal aid in Spain can also be obtained by European citizens that do not live in Spain but are called to court in Spain. Non-Europeans have to be a legal resident in Spain in order to get Legal Aid.
The most important requirement is that your income is below a certain amount. To qualify as having insufficient means, the total monthly income of you and your family unit must not be more than twice the National Minimum Wage (“salario mínimo interprofesional”) set annually by the Government. For 2019 this amount is set by law at 25.200 € (2x 12.600) yearly.
The application is made by the completion of a form and handing this in at the Colegio de Abogados or the Court where the proceedings will take place. You will have to show proof of your income and your family situation. It might take a couple of weeks before you will get a decision. In urgent cases you will get a lawyer immediately. If your application is honored, the Colegio de Abogados will appoint a lawyer that will assist you. These lawyers are chosen from a list of over 20.000 lawyers in Spain that have more than 3 years experience. You CAN NOT appoint your own lawyer. Only in case of domestic violence and abuse a exception is made and the victim can choose her own lawyer.