Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system-illustrate and explain.

1.      Introduction

The unmet legal needs of the poor and middle class people of Bangladesh as well as throughout the world are well concerned to all. Nearly   three- fourths of the low- income people around the world and two-thirds of middle income people with identified legal needs either ignore their problem and or try to resolve it without assistance[1]. For the many of the individuals timely legal help could prevent unemployment, eviction or failure of small business. Legal service office mostly unable to meet the need of indigent and a big amount of middle- income people cannot afford their private attorneys. We all know that legal right is meaningless without the access of judicial systems. But in the 21st century most of the country is working hard for ensuring welfare for their citizen regardless they are poor or reach by implementing some strict policies and regulations. Now leaders of the countries around the world are giving priorities to ensure legal aids for those who cannot afford.

2.      State in 21st century

Most of the state in 21st century tries to optimize the welfare of their citizen regardless they are rich or poor, the preceding analysis points to a set of concrete policy priorities that’s nearly all state have taken to ensure better welfare to their citizen and the policies are:

   • maximize the ability of mothers to reconcile the demands of employment and


   • encourage older workers to postpone retirement

   • increase the state’s share of responsibility for the costs of rearing children,

     primarily through investments in children and young people

   • redefine the mix of work and leisure throughout the life cycle

   • reconceptualize equality and fundamental social rights, primarily in terms of

     life-chance guarantees. And provide assistance in the legal matters to the indigent litigants[2].

In general, these priorities imply a stronger emphasis on protecting households with children and young people, and on providing services to families.

3.      Cost of litigation

 Justice is the process of presenting evidence in court before a judge or jury and having them decide in someone’s favor after the evidence is reviewed[3]. Justice pays no attention to the financial costs of a case.  If a person wants justice they must be willing to spend as much time, emotional capital and money as necessary to achieve that result, which can often be an unfair result from a financial viewpoint. And just because a case goes to trial does not mean that justice will be served; you could lose and thereby suffer an unjust result in the process. That’s one of the risks of fighting for justice—injustice[4].

In a civil lawsuit, however, whether it is personal injury, breach of contract, will or trust contest, or breach of duty case, a single person or small group of people are paying the bill. And a vast majority of people want their case to be fair–meaning they will get more out of the case financially than what they put in.  Yet, people regularly want justice[5].

4.      Concept of Legal aid

“Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial”[6].

A number of delivery models for legal aid have emerged, including duty lawyers, community legal clinics and the payment of lawyers to deal with cases for individuals who are entitled to legal aid.

5.      History of Legal Aid

Legal aid has a close relationship with the welfare state and the provision of legal aid by a state is influenced by attitudes towards welfare[7]. Legal aid is a welfare provision by the state to people who could otherwise not afford access to the legal system[8]. Historically legal aid has played a strong role in ensuring respect for economic, social and cultural rights which are engaged in relation to social security, housing, social care, health and education service provision, which may be provided publicly or privately, as well as employment law and anti-discrimination legislation. Jurists such as Mauro Cappelletti argue that legal aid is essential in providing individuals with access to justice, by allowing the individual legal enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights[9].

Prior to the mid 20th Century literature on legal aid emphasized collective enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights[10]. Laws were enacted to support welfare provisions, though these were regarded as laws for planners, not lawyers. Legal aid schemes were established as it was assumed that the state had a responsible to assist those engaged in legal disputes, but they initially focused primarily on family law and divorce. In the 1950s and 1960s the role of the welfare state changed and social goals were no longer assumed to be common goals. Individuals were free to pursue their own goals. The welfare state in this time expanded along with legal aid provisions as concerns emerged over the power of welfare providers and professionals. This led to increasing calls in the 1960s and 1970s for the right of individuals to legally enforce economic, social and cultural rights and the welfare provisions they as individuals were entitled to. Legal aid was extended from family law to a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights[11].In the 1980s the role of the classic welfare state was no longer regarded as necessarily positive and welfare was increasingly provided by private entities.

6.      Types of Legal Aid

 Legal aid is only available for certain types of problem in certain areas of law. These problems could include:

  • welfare benefits, such as problems with Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • actions against the police, such as wrongful arrest
  • clinical negligence, such as claims against a doctor or dentist
  • community care, such as claims against social services for not looking after an elderly person
  • consumer and general contract law, such as poor quality of goods or services
  • crime, such as getting help in court if you’re accused of an offence
  • debt, such as legal advice if you have been declared bankrupt
  • education, such as legal cases about education for special needs
  • employment, such as claims of unfair dismissal or discrimination not dealt with by tribunal
  • family, such as separation and divorce
  • housing, such as problems you’ve had buying or selling a home
  • immigration and nationality, such as being deported from the UK
  • mental health, such as getting help for a family member or friend
  • public law, such as challenging the decision of a local authority

Problems you can’t get legal aid for:

  • personal injury
  • going to an Employment Tribunal
  • irresponsible damage to property
  • conveyancing (the legal transfer of property when you buy or sell a house or flat)
  • boundary disputes
  • making a will
  • defamation (libel and slander) or malicious falsehood (knowingly spreading lies about people)[12]

There are different levels of legal aid to pay for different legal costs. The level of legal aid you receive will depend on your case.

  • Legal Help – Legal Help covers the cost of getting specialist advice[13].
  • Help at Court – Help at Court pays for an adviser to speak for you in a civil court if you don’t need to defend yourself.
  • Family Mediation – Family Mediation can pay for an independent mediator to try and help you resolve family disputes without having to go to court.
  • Family Help – Family Help covers help or representation for family disputes. For example, it can help you draw up any legal agreements between you and your partner or spouse.
  • Legal Representation – Legal Representation helps with the costs of taking certain types of civil cases to court or tribunal. It includes the cost of a solicitor or barrister speaking for you in your defence.

7.      Assisting Indigent litigants

Recent efforts that have taken by the leader of the country around the world will hopefully make it easier for indigent litigants to obtain a waiver of court fees and make it easier for courts to determine whether the litigant is indigent[14]. Wisconsin’s Constitution[15] fully embraces the concept of free access to justice in Article 1, Section 9:“Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries, or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character; he ought to obtain justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformably to the laws”.Many litigants cannot afford to pay the filing fees for starting a court action. The cost of filing a divorce action, for example, starts at $184.50 (not including paying for service of paperwork, mediation expenses, guardian ad item fees, or other costs). There are many other examples of the high cost of justice but the bottom line is there is a cost to obtaining justice and not everyone can afford these fees[16]. Wisconsin has long had a fee waiver statute that is simple in operation for both courts and litigants[17].To obtain an order waiving court fees, an indigent litigant first completes a standard court form[18].The fee waiver statute presumes if a litigant receives means-tested public assistance they are indigent[19]. The fee waiver statute also presumes indigency for litigants represented by a legal services firm[20]. If the litigant does not receive any of these benefits, the court can determine indigency based on the federal poverty guidelines, and the person is required to submit detailed financial information.If a litigant submits an affidavit, which avers they receive means-tested public assistance or are represented by a legal services firm, the court is required to waive fees.

8.      Legal Aid in Bangladesh

In a democratic country it is a prerequisite that all citizens get economic and social justice. Many people of Bangladesh deprived of access to justice due to their poverty. Due to lack of security & protection for women victim & witness women feels threat to file cases, in some cases after filing cases women do not continue the cases due to threat of opposition, sometimes do the compromise with the perpetrator. To provide legal aid to the affected women, poor people and other vulnerable groups’ government legal aid fund was introduced in 2000. It was an initiative to provide assistance to indigent litigants in the legal matters both inside and outside the courts and providing access to legal aid throughout the country[21]. An effort for providing legal aid to the indigent litigants was first taken up by the government by a notification dated 18 January 1994. Under the notification a legal aid committee was formed in every district with the district and sessions judge as its chairman[22]. Later ensuring access to justice of the poor people government enacted Legal Aid Services Act 2000, (LASA)[23].

9.      Conclusion

 I hope that due to these progressive initiatives poor people will be benefited getting Access to Justice. Lawyer will be encouraged to facilitate litigation under Legal Aid Fund. Application form will be available in the permanent District Legal Aid Offices. Barriers on the way of access to justice for common people will be removed soon and poor litigants will be encouraged to get the highest benefit of legal aid. In conclusion I want to say that to ensure fundamental rights and rule of law for the poor litigants with the affluent litigants, every government should immediately take effective steps, only then the rights of the indigent litigants will be better protected.


Legal aid.(n.d). Retrieved November 11, 2011, from

 Ruma Sultana,”Legal Aid and access to justice”. The daily star, issue no:237 September 24,2011.

Bison, I. and Esping-Andersen, G. 2000. ‘A welfare state in 21st century’.

Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 Korey C. Lundin.“Crucial changes to court form make it easier for courts to waive fees for indigent litigants” ,Legal Action of Wisconsin Inc., Madison.

Legal aid an introduction. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from

Wisconsin’s Constitution ,Stat. § 814.29(1)(b).

 Wisconsin’s Constitution. Stat. § 814.29(1)(d)1.

 Wisconsin’s Constitution. Stat. § 814.29(1)(d)2.

 Us department of justice, United States attorney kids page, inside the courtroom.

  Kelly’s The Irish Constitution (with G. Hogan) (Fourth edition). 2004, LexisNexis. Social Inclusion and the Legal System: Public Interest.

[1] Reese and Eldred, supra note 2,( citing the reasons given for not consulting an attorney when needed including the beliefs that legal assistance would not help, the cost, that the problem was not serious enough or legal, the desire to avoid confrontation, and the desire to handle the problem of on one’s own.

[2]  For details see Bison, I. and Esping-Andersen, G. 2000. ‘A welfare state of the 21st century’.

[3]  See Us department of justice, United States attorney kids page

[4] For example, when we prosecute killers in court for capital murder, which carries the death penalty, it is very expensive.  The cost of trying death penalty cases far outweighs any financial gain we (society) will get back in return.  So do we decide not to prosecute murderers because it’s just too expensive?  No, because we want justice and as a society we are willing to pay the price for justice.  Plus, it is society as a whole who pays–no one person is asked to pay for a death penalty trial.  But the death penalty trial is not fair from a financial standpoint because the financial costs outweigh the financial benefits—but it is just.

[5] But justice is not easy to obtain. Rarely is it handed out willingly. It must be fought for at any cost and there is no guarantee that a just cause will prevail–losing is always a possibility. It takes time, effort and an emotional toll to pursue justice. Nelson Mandella, Martin Luther King, Jr., our Founding Fathers all fought for justice, placing their lives and freedom on the line. They paid a high price for their just causes; it was not a fair result.

[8] Legal aid also helps to ensure that welfare provisions are enforced by providing people entitled to welfare provisions, such as social housing, with access to legal advice and the courts.

[9] His views developed in the second half o the 20th Century, when democracies with capitalist economies established liberal welfare states that focused on the individual. States established themselves as contractors and service providers within a market based philosophy that emphasized the citizen as consumer. This led to an emphasis on individual enforcement to achieve the realization of rights for all.

[10] As classic welfare states were built in the 1940s it was assumed that citizens had collective responsibility for economic, social and cultural rights and the state assumed responsibility for those unable to provide for themselves through illness and unemployment. The enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights was to be collective, through policies rather than individual legal action.

[11] See Kelly, The Irish Constitution (with G. Hogan) (Fourth edition). 2004, LexisNexis. Social Inclusion and the Legal System: Public Interest

[12]  See Directgov,”legal aid an introduction”

[13] Legal help includes your legal adviser explaining your rights and the different options you have to resolve your problem. It can also include the cost of someone negotiating for you, making sure an existing legal decision is enforced or preparing a written case.

[14]  SeeKorey C. Lundin.“Crucial changes to court form make it easier for courts to waive fees for indigent litigants” Legal Action of Wisconsin Inc., Madison.

[15]The Legislative Reference Bureau is a non-partisan legislative service agency that publishes statutes and rules. It does not apply, interpret, or enforce any statutes, rules, or other law.

[16] Wisconsin’s Constitution guarantees the right of access to justice to everyone, even those who cannot afford to start a court action.

[17] Wis. Stat. § 814.29(1). The statute covers not only filing and service fees, but “any fee that is required to prosecute or defend an action.” There is also a separate statute which covers the waiver of fees for prisoner, an issue outside the scope of this article. See Wis. Stat. § 814.29(1m).

[18] Wis. Stat. § 814.29(1)(b).

[19] Wis. Stat. § 814.29(1)(d)1.

[20] Wis. Stat. § 814.29(1)(d)2

[21]  See Ruma sultana,”Legal Aid and access to justice”. The daily star

[22] The committee, after considering applications of the indigent litigants, allowed legal aid to the deserving persons by paying fees of the advocates of such applicants

[23] Enacting Legal Aid Services Act 2000, LASA is a praiseworthy initiative of government. Funds under this Act is allocated in 61 districts under the custody of District and Session Judge for helping the poor and distressed people, physically challenged, widow, victim of trafficking and acid throwing, deserted women, helpless disable, who have no financial ability to get justice