Nicholas Nicol. Legal Aid barrister and mediator. Defending people from homelessness and discrimination. 1 Pump Court.
Nicholas Nicol. Legal Aid barrister and mediator. Defending people from homelessness and discrimination. 1 Pump Court.

Legal Services

Since 1950 the services of solicitors and barristers have been made available for those who could not afford them by Legal Aid. Subject to a means test and a merits test for their particular case, individual clients were provided with advice and litigation services from any solicitor willing to do the work. There was increasing pressure on the legal aid budget which was used to justify fundamental changes in the legal aid system. Legal Aid is now available for a limited list of specified areas of law and legally-aided services are only available from solicitors and non-profit agencies with contracts granted by the Legal Aid Agency.


Legal aid was aimed at providing those who lack sufficient resources with enough money to buy existing legal services. During the 1960s, it was increasingly realised that many disadvantaged people had problems which existing legal services could not provide for. The voluntary sector tried to fill the gap, particularly for advice on housing, employment, immigration, welfare benefits and debt. In the UK there exists the largest network of people's advice centres in the world, known as Citizens Advice Bureaux. CABx are promoted and assisted by the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux, known as Citizens Advice. There are also a large number of independent advice centres, many of which are represented by Advice UK.


However, these CABx and advice centres normally lack fully-qualified legal expertise. Law centres have been set up in some areas to try to fill the gap, although most areas still do not have one. Typically, a law centre has at least two qualified lawyers, supported by non-legally-qualified caseworkers and administrative staff. Law centres are promoted and assisted by the Law Centres Network. The law and advice centres are funded from public and charitable sources and their services are free. All are under substantial financial pressure and some have had to close recently.

Instructing Nik

If you have any queries please contact One Pump Court:

Telephone: 0207 842 7070

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One Pump Court Chambers

Elm Court, Temple, London



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The information and any commentary on the law contained on this web-site is provided free of charge for information only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up-to-date but it is not intended to amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter and not to rely solely on the information or comments on this site.