Free patronage: how to get a free lawyer

Over the years the fees of lawyers have been reviewed and reduced by ministerial decree. Yet the  unified contribution  and the cost of a cause are not for everyone. So who has no economic resources must renounce his defense?

Not so: you can resort to the benefit of legal aid (also called legal aid ), with which you can get legal protection in a case, both civil and criminal, without having to worry about the lawyer's fee, which it will remain totally at the expense of the State even in case of loss of the cause. In short, a free lawyer at your disposal .

Here are the requirements and how to get it.

Free patronage: when it is up

The institute of legal aid (ie a free lawyer), because paid directly by the Treasury, finds its legal basis in the single text on matters of justice (Presidential Decree No. 115/2002 – articles 74 to 141). Can everyone benefit from the free lawyer, that is to say the lawyer paid by the State?

Of course, as long as you have  an income below a certain limit that is periodically updated and provided that a number of other conditions are met. Let's see them together.

  • Income: for 2018 the taxable income limit for legal free legal aid is 11.493,82 euros and must be demonstrated by producing the last tax return; Grounds of the reasons: whoever requests the benefit must give an account of the cause he intends to promote or which is already underway and of the fact that the questions he presents to the judge are not manifestly unfounded;
  • Exclusions: does not benefit from the free lawyer who is investigated, accused or convicted of tax evasion, who is defended by more than one lawyer (in criminal cases) and who promotes a case for assignment of credits.

Who is the legal aid?

Without prejudice to the conditions listed above, the benefit of legal free legal aid can be requested by all  Italian citizens , stateless persons  (persons emigrated and without any citizenship), non-profit organizations or associations that do not carry out economic activities, foreigners with regular residence permit .

The free lawyer, that is paid by the State, is a benefit that can be applied for civil, criminal, administrative and tax judgments. Excluded the extra-judicial matters: no legal aid if you use the lawyer to write a letter of fire to the administrator of the condominium or for a lease.

 Free legal aid: is it also for mediation and negotiation?

For some years now there are alternative means to the court to resolve disputes: it is about mediation and assisted negotiation. Two hypotheses in which we rely on third parties (a mediator in the first case, their own lawyer in the second) to find a non-litigious solution to the problem between two parties.

In some cases, mediation and negotiation can be a mandatory step, without which one can not legitimately address the court: think of the condominium issues, for which preventive mediation is mandatory, and to requests for amounts lower than € 50,000.00, so first of all we need to invite the other party to try the negotiation.

Although it is not a clear law on this point, it is a widespread interpretation that the costs of mediation and negotiation fall within those covered by legal aid, at least when they are mandatory to continue with the proceedings. In this sense, the Court of Florence has recently pronounced the decision of 13.12.2016.

How to get a free lawyer: the admission application

You have all the requirements to get a lawyer at the expense of the state but you do not know how to ask? Is simple. Anyone who wants free legal aid must complete a written and signed application and deliver it or send it by registered letter with return receipt in duplicate to the Secretariat of the Council of the Bar Association, which is responsible for the area in which the Tribunal is located to which the cause will be proposed or in which the judgment is already pending.

If you already have a lawyer qualified for legal aid you can ask him to complete and submit the application (in that case he will also authenticate your signature). Otherwise you can prepare it yourself, in plain paper. If you want to be sure not to make mistakes you can go to the website of the Council of the Bar Association to which you will hand over it and download the form to be filled out.

For example, here is the form requested by the Bologna Council (note: the reported income limit is not updated). The required documents change a bit from area to zone, but in general it should be completed indicating:

  • the personal data of the applicant;
  • the judicial authority before which the case is promoted or promoted;
  • the object of the case and the applicant's reasons;
  • the lawyer's data, if it has already been chosen;
  • the statement about your income and the fact that it does not exceed the sum of € 11,528.41;
  • the declaration about the possession of other registered real estate or movable property;
  • the declaration or self-declaration about the income of the family unit: nucleus understood as family registry, whose income is added to that of the applicant in assessing compliance with the limit, unless the cause is not precisely against their family (for example a divorce) or that does not concern personality rights. In such cases only the individual income of the applicant counts;
  • the declaration of commitment by the applicant to communicate any change: the conditions of income must in fact exist throughout the duration of the case;
  • the list of enclosed documentation: this also varies from area to area and can still be integrated even after filing, if requested by the Board. In general, the declaration of income or Isee is required, self-certification or certificate of free status of the family, a copy of the identity document, a copy of the deeds or measures that already exist if the judgment is pending, a copy of any documentation can be useful to prove that the cause is not groundless.

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