NS Legal Aid Frequently Asked Questions
We provide legal representation primarily in criminal, family and social justice cases. Financial, area of law, and merit qualifications must be met.
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Legal Aid in Nova Scotia:
Applying for Legal Aid:
Can I apply for Legal Aid online?
Where do I find the addresses and telephone numbers for the Legal Aid Offices?
See “Contact Us” page of this website. Nova Scotia Legal Aid Offices are also listed in the white, blue and yellow pages of Bell Aliant phone books under both “L” for “Legal Aid” and “N” for “Nova Scotia Legal Aid”.
How do I apply for Legal Aid?
What legal matters does Legal Aid cover?
What decisions can be made about my eligibility for legal aid?
Your matter must fall within our menu of services and you must financially qualify. There must be merit to your case.
What can I do if Legal Aid won’t represent me?
Legal Aid Certificates
I applied for Legal Aid and I have been approved for a Legal Aid Certificate. What is a Legal Aid Certificate?
A Certificate allows you to find a lawyer in the Private Bar who is willing to represent you at the Legal Aid rates. If a lawyer has any questions regarding the Certificate available for your representation, please have the lawyer contact the Managing Lawyer of the Legal Aid Office where you were approved for representation.
How do I find out which lawyers accept Legal Aid Certificates?
Each Legal Aid Office has a list of local lawyers who have accepted Certificates in the past or have said they are willing to accept Certificates. This list of lawyers will be given to you if you ask for it. If you know a local lawyer not on the list, who will act for you under the terms of a Legal Aid Certificate and who meets NSLA Certificate Lawyer Practice Concentration Standards, we would issue a Certificate to that lawyer.
Legal Services Between Provinces/Territories
What do I do if I live in Nova Scotia but have a family law matter in another Province or Territory?
Effective September 1, 2018, you can apply for legal aid in one of two ways.
You can apply directly to the legal aid plan in the province or territory where your family law matter is (also called the “receiving plan”). The receiving plan may accept your application and will decide if you are eligible for legal aid based on financial eligibility, merit and if your matter is within their menu of service.
Or, you can apply to the Legal Aid Office where you live who will forward the application to the province or territory where your family law matter is (also called the “receiving plan”). The receiving plan makes the decision about your eligibility to receive legal aid in their province or territory based on financial eligibility, merit and if your matter is within their menu of service.
Your particular circumstances will determine what the preferred route for you will be.
Some provinces/territories may have an application fee. They may choose to have the fee paid by residents on outgoing applications for legal services. No application fee to the receiving province will be required of an applicant on an incoming application. However, an application fee may be required of an applicant from another province/territory making an initial application directly to the receiving Plan. The agreement does not restrict the receiving plan from requiring a contribution from an applicant who is referred from another plan or who applies directly.
What do I do as I don’t live in Nova Scotia but I have a family law matter in Nova Scotia?
You can apply directly to the Legal Aid Plan in Nova Scotia by contacting one of our regional offices and mailing/faxing a completed application form to Nova Scotia Legal Aid or by applying online. Our online application can be found at www.nslegalaid.ca.
Nova Scotia Legal Aid will make a decision about eligibility based on your financial information, merit and if your matter is within our menu of service. If approved, you will be provided with legal aid. If your application is not approved, you may appeal the decision to:
NSLA Appeal Committee
Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission
920-1701 Hollis Street
Halifax, NS B3J 3M8
What do I do if I live in Nova Scotia but have a criminal matter in another Province or Territory?
You must contact Legal Aid directly in the Province/Territory where your criminal matter will be going to court. Your eligibility for Legal Aid will be determined by the criteria for Legal Aid where the matter is being heard.
What do I do if I don’t live in Nova Scotia, but I have a criminal matter in Nova Scotia?
You must contact Nova Scotia Legal Aid directly. You should contact the Legal Aid Office where you will be going to court. Your eligibility will be determined using Nova Scotia Legal Aid guidelines. For the list of offices and contact information see “Legal Aid Offices” on this website, or fill out the contact form on the “Contact Us” page. You may also apply on-line.
|Province||Apply – Telephone/Fax||Apply – Other|
(toll free # to come)
|British Columbia||Call Centre:
*NRA forms still required
|c/o Ms. Sharon Albert
NB Legal Aid Commission
|Newfoundland||*Require specific referral form|
|Northwest Territories||Call Centre:
|c/o Kathleen Wheaton
Legal Aid Commission of NWT
PO Box 1320
4915-48th Street, 3rd Floor
YK Centre East
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9
Phone: (867) 767-9362
(Client & Lawyer Support Centre)
(for info only)
|c/o Jackie Hamm
40 Great George St.
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
|c/o Danièle Archambault – firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Saskatchewan||1-800-667-3764 (toll free)||N/A|
Mental Health Court – Dartmouth
Where is the Mental Health Court?
The Nova Scotia Mental Health Court is located at the Dartmouth Court, 277 Pleasant Street, Dartmouth, 902-722-1040.
When is court held for the Mental Health Court?
The Mental Health Court sits every Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom #5.
Is there a lawyer who can help me at court?
A Duty Counsel Lawyer is available at the court that can assist you in determining whether a referral to the Mental Health Court is right for you.
What are the requirements to qualify?
You must have a serious mental health disorder that is related to your offence(s). Please discuss what this means with your Lawyer or Legal Aid Duty Counsel.
Do I need to plead guilty?
You will need to acknowledge and may have to plead guilty depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
How often do I have to go to Court?
You must attend Court on a regular basis (sometimes weekly).
Do I have to attend appointments?
You must attend all professional appointments.
Do I have to take medications?
You will be required to take all medications prescribed by your treatment provider(s).
Can I use drugs?
You must abstain from drugs and/or alcohol use, if required, and submit to substance use testing.
Will I lose my licence?
If your offence(s) are driving related, you will be ordered not to drive for at least one (1) year.
How long is the Program?
You can expect to be involved in the Program for at least one (1) year.
Where can I get more information about the Mental Health Court Program?
Unrepresented or Detained
What if I am being arrested or detained?
Legal advice is available to arrested or detained persons in Nova Scotia 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This service is provided by Business Hours Telephone Duty Counsel (BHTDC) and After Hours “Brydges” Duty Counsel (AHTDC). If you have been arrested or detained, the officer is to initially place the call to Duty Counsel using the appropriate Duty Counsel telephone number (BHTDC or AHTDC). Once the officer has provided Duty Counsel with the information required, the Duty Counsel lawyer will speak with you.
Note: This service is only available to individuals being arrested or detained by a peace officer (police).
I don’t have a lawyer. Can I get help at court?
In the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), NSLA offers full-time Duty Counsel Lawyers onsite at the Provincial Courts and Summary Advice Counsel in the Supreme Courts (Family Division). Summary Advice Counsel for family matters is also provided on a scheduled basis at Family Courts across the Province and at every service office. Duty and Summary Advice Counsel will help you with immediate matters before the court, but do not provide continuing representation or conduct trials. They may refer you to a full-service lawyer.
Services are provided to all adults and young persons who request it. Further information regarding the particulars of each service is available at the courthouses or you can contact your local NSLA office.