First condition: the matters in respect of which Legal Aid is granted
- Family cases as such are defined in the Family Courts Law, 5755 - 1995, including: divorce, annulment of marriage, maintenance, custody of children, visiting arrangements, protection order in the context of domestic violence, order staying exit from the country, age/name correction, inheritance etc.
- Protection of rights pertaining to residence, including ownership, vacation or eviction claims, rent, key money and repairs to leased premises, with the exception of registration of right of title to real estate or any other action in relation thereto.
- Financial matters, including claims for damages.
- Cases that lie within the jurisdiction of the Labor Tribunal, including wage claims, and claims for severance pay, social benefits, etc. with the exception of criminal matters.
- Representation before an Appeals Committee under the Employment Lights ("Wisconsin") program.
- National Insurance cases - claims under the legislation granting pensions, allowances, rehabilitation or other rights to disabled persons or to families.
- Claims in any matter pertaining to rights of Discharged Soldiers.
- Claims under the Law of Return, 5711 - 1950, the Citizenship Law 5712 - 1952, the Population Register Law, 5725 - 1965.
- Business Licensing Cases regarding occupations or professions, and their regulation pursuant to legislation.
- Representation on Forced Hospitalization Committees.
- Representation of victims of an offence of human trafficking in civil proceedings.
- Representation of Foreign Minors before the Custody Investigation Tribunal of Illegal Residents.
- Assistance to a Patient hospitalized under a Commitment Order or who is receiving clinical treatment under a Clinical Treatment Order.
- Assistance to a minor whose relative has filed an application for a Protection Order against him.
- Assistance to a participant in all matters pertaining to procedures under the Employment Lights ("Wisconsin") Program.
Second condition: economic entitlement to aid
The Legal Aid Regulations prescribe the economic tests for the grant of legal aid. According to these regulations, with the exception of National Insurance cases and representation in forced hospitalization cases in which there is no economic test, legal aid is only granted to those entitled to it from an economic standpoint.
The economic test involves two aggregate tests:
A. The income test - an individual or family of up to three persons with a level of income of up to 67% of the national average wage (as at August 2009 - NIS 5,440). For every additional person, there is an addition of 6%. The test refers to gross income. In personal status cases the income of the spouse is not investigated.
According to the directive of the Legal Aid Commissioner, there is to be no deduction from the income of a legal aid applicant in respect of maintenance that he is paying for his wife and children. However, if it is proved that maintenance is being paid, the recipients thereof will be deemed to be additional persons for the purpose of calculating entitlement to assistance.
B. The Property Test - property of the applicant that can be realized (savings, vehicle etc.) or property in respect of which it is possible to obtain a loan, not exceeding three times the national average wage (as of August 2009 - NIS 24,359).
The property test does not apply to a residential dwelling or to property of the spouse.
Table of Entitlement to Legal Aid with effect from 1.1.2009
- National average wage (August 2009) 7-9/2008 - NIS 8,120
- National average wage x 3 = 24,359
- Additional amount for each person (starting from the 4th person, 6% of the average wage) - NIS 487
Exceptions to the economic entitlement test
- Applicants in National Insurance cases - in this matter, there is no economic entitlement test.
- Applicants in Family cases - in Family cases, only the income of the applicant himself will be taken into account and not the income of other members of his family residing with him. Thus, for example, in the case of an applicant who marries for a second time and is sued by his former spouse for child maintenance, in order to calculate his economic entitlement to receive assistance, the income of his present wife will not be taken into account.
- In claims in relation to minors, only income of the minors themselves (if any) will be taken into account, and not income of the parent making the claim on their behalf.
- Representation of forcibly hospitalized patients.
Borderline Cases in respect of which an examination as to legal aid entitlement is problematical
- Women living in a battered women's shelter - there will almost always be economic entitlement because of severance from their livelihood or property even if the income or property were relatively high, but this must be checked in a pragmatic manner.
- Application for a Protection Order - there is no special legal rule as to economic entitlement in a case of an application for a protection order. However, in cases in which there is a real fear of injury to the applicant and in order to exercise extra caution in such a sensitive issue, legal aid will be granted even in a case in which the applicant has not yet furnished full details concerning his/her economic ability and it appears that he/she is eligible even if there is concern as to a "reasonable" deviation from the maximum threshold for economic entitlement to legal aid. Additionally, in relation to the legal prospects in the case, a lenient view will be taken in a case in which there is doubt as to the legal prospects due to the reasons stated above.
Third Condition: Legal Prospects of Success
Under the Legal Aid Law, in each individual case (with the exception of representation before District Psychiatric Committees) the legal prospects of success in the proceedings will be examined. In this context both the factual and the legal aspects are examined, with an examination of the evidence and the legal arguments of the opposing party. This aspect demands a highly professional approach as well as a profound examination of the Legal Aid Department in each individual case and requires the cooperation of the applicants in providing relevant information and documents.