I cannot afford a lawyer. How can I obtain legal aid in Spain?
If you find yourself in a situation where you need legal assistance for your defence and you cannot afford to pay a lawyer you might be entitled to free legal help from the state legal aid scheme. The Spanish authority which governs legal assistance in this case is the Colegio de Abogados, which can provide you with a public defender (abogado de oficio). The service is available whether you are living in Spain (legally or not), or visiting.
When can I request legal aid?
You can receive legal aid to access legal defence in Spain if you cannot afford a lawyer, as long as the case is defensible. You might have to pay a contribution, depending on your personal circumstances. Free legal aid is available to:
Defend your employment rights as a worker
If you are a victim of domestic violence, terrorism, or human trafficking
If you are a minor, or you have a mental disability and you are the victim of abuse,
Or you are permanently incapacitated following an accident and seek compensation
The final decision is taken by the Colegio de Abogados which takes the type of case, your personal circumstances, and income into account.
How is the legal aid calculated?
The level of legal aid support is calculated using the current IPREM (public income indicator) rate and your personal circumstances at the time of application. You can consult the current IPREM amount here.
You will be entitled to a free public defender if your monthly income does not exceed:
200% of the IPREM if you live alone.
250% of the IPREM if you live with a family of four or more members.
300% of the IPREM if you are part of a family unit of four or more members.
You can check if you meet the requirements with this online tool.
How can I request a public defender?
The first step is to contact the Colegio de Abogados in your region. You can find the nearest colegio using this online directory. You will have to provide relevant documentation to justify your financial situation. After submitting your application, the Colegio de Abogados will send you the decision and information on the next steps.
List of documents and links
You will need to provide some documents from the list below, depending on your personal circumstances.
Copy of the family book (Libro de familia), marriage or birth certificate, if you are married or responsible for children
Copy of the last IRPF (income tax) declaration of your family unit, if any
Copy of the last wealth tax declaration of your family unit, if any
Evidence of your Social Security contribution history (if self employed)
A declaration of all income received in the last 6 months (if you do not have an income tax declaration (IRPF).
Evidence of your work history in Spain (Informe de vida laboral). Can be requested from the Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social here.
If employed, a copy of the last six payslips of each member of your family unit.
If self employed, a copy of the last three quarterly IRPF statements of the family unit.
If receiving an unemployment benefit, certificate of the benefit from the Oficina de Trabajo or INEM, declaring the amount and duration of the benefit.
If a pensioner, your pension certificate.
If receiving any welfare benefit, a certificate stating the type of aid and amount perceived.
Cadastre certificate of the property of your family unit, if any.
Certificate declaring your real estate assets, if any.
Copy of your rental contract or monthly housing costs, such as a mortgage, if this affects your financial circumstances.
Any other information the Colegio de Abogados requires to determine your eligibility.
Along with the above documents, you will also need to complete an application form. This form is different in each region. Links for the specific form for each region are below:
UK Foreign Office information on Legal Aid in Spain (December 2017)
This information has been prepared by Age in Spain for the convenience of English speakers who may require these services and assistance in Spain. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information provided is correct, no responsibility or liability whatsoever is accepted for any errors or omissions that may occur. Specific legal advice should be taken in each case.