1 What costs are involved in legal proceedings and who normally has to bear them?
The following costs of a trial can be paid through legal aid:
- Stamp and registration duty
- Court registry fees
- Bailiffs' fees and costs
- Experts' costs and fees
- Translators' and interpreters' fees
- Notaries' costs and fees
- Allowances to witnesses
- Travel expenses
- Publication costs
- Lawyers’ fees and emoluments
- Duties and fees relating to registration, mortgage and pledge
- Fees for certificates stating the position in foreign law (certificats de coutume).
2 What exactly is legal aid?
Through legal aid, a natural person who has insufficient means can obtain legal assistance or legal advice from a lawyer for a specific case.
3 Do I have a right to legal aid?
Persons with insufficient means are eligible for legal aid to defend their interests, providing they are:
- Luxembourg nationals, or
- foreign nationals authorised to take up residence in Luxembourg, or
- nationals of a Member State of the European Union, or
- foreign nationals deemed equivalent to Luxembourg nationals for legal aid purposes by virtue of an international treaty, or
- illegally staying third-country nationals with a view to the reimbursement of remuneration due under Article 572-7 of the Labour Code (Code du Travail).
Legal aid may also be granted to any other foreign national with insufficient means in proceedings relating to their right to asylum, entry, residence, settlement or removal.
Verification of insufficient means is based on the total gross income and capital of the applicant and of any other members of the household.
Legal aid is refused to persons bringing an action which appears a priori to be unreasonable, unlikely to succeed or whose aim seems disproportionate in relation to the potential costs.
4 Is legal aid granted for all types of proceedings?
Legal aid may be granted to either the plaintiff or the defendant in contentious or non‑contentious matters, whether handled in or out of court. It can be requested for any action brought before the ordinary courts or the administrative courts. Legal aid may also be granted in the case of precautionary measures and procedures to enforce court decisions or any other enforceable instrument.
However, it cannot be granted to owners of motor vehicles for disputes resulting from the use of such vehicles. Likewise, it cannot be granted to shopkeepers, industrialists, or craftsmen or professionals in relation to disputes concerning their business or professional activity, except in exceptional and duly substantiated cases; nor, in general, can it be granted for disputes regarding speculative activity by the person applying for legal aid..
5 Are there special procedures in cases of need?
In cases of emergency, temporary allowance of legal aid may be assigned, without further formality, by the Chairman of the Bar Association (Bâtonnier de l'Ordre des Avocats) for the steps the Chairman determines.
6 Where can I obtain a legal aid application form?
The national application form for legal aid in Luxembourg can be obtained from the Central Social Assistance Service (Service Central d'Assistance Sociale, tel. 00 352 475821-1).
7 Which documents need to be submitted with the legal aid application form?
When applying for legal aid you must attach:
- a copy of your identity document;
- your certificate of registration with the Joint Social Security Centre (Centre Commun de la Sécurité Sociale - CCSS) as well as for persons belonging to your household;
- for you and each member of your household: pay slips (or a CCSS income certificate), minimum guaranteed income receipts from the Revenu d'inclusion sociale (REVIS) scheme, unemployment benefit or pension receipts or other receipts covering the last three months and indicating gross amounts (bank statements are not sufficient);
- a zero-balance certificate from the National Solidarity Fund (Fonds national de solidarité) for each member of the household, if the household does not receive anything from the Fund;
- if the household receives or pays a maintenance allowance, a document indicating the amount paid or received (bank statements for the last three months, for example);
- a real estate ownership or non-ownership certificate issued by the Luxembourg Tax Administration (Administration des contributions directes) for each member of the household;
- where applicable, supporting documents for the ownership of real estate located abroad;
- documentary evidence of movable assets (cash, savings, shares, bonds, etc.);
- if the household is a tenant, a copy of the lease contract and rent receipts for the last three months;
- if the household is repaying a mortgage, proof of payment of the monthly amount;
- documentary evidence of income from real estate and movable property;
- documents relating to the case in question.
8 Where do I submit my application for legal aid?
The Chairman of the Bar Association in the applicant’s place of residence, or his delegate, decides whether to assign legal aid. For non-residents the decision is taken by the Chairman of the Luxembourg Bar or his delegate.
9 How do I find out whether I am entitled to legal aid?
The Chairman’s decision will be sent to you by post.
10 What should I do, if I am entitled to legal aid?
In his decision, the Chairman will give the name of the lawyer who will provide legal assistance and will ask you to contact that lawyer.
11 Who chooses my lawyer, if I am entitled to legal aid?
The Chairman appoints the lawyer that the applicant has freely chosen or, if no lawyer has been chosen by the applicant or the Chairman considers their choice inappropriate, the lawyer of the Chairman's own choice. Except on grounds of impediment or conflict of interest, lawyers must accept instructions entrusted to them in this way.
12 Does legal aid cover all the costs of the proceedings?
As a rule, legal assistance covers all costs relating to the proceedings, procedures or measures for which it was granted (see point 1).
However, legal aid does not cover flat‑rate legal costs awarded to a successful party (indemnités de procédure) or compensation for abuse of process and vexatious proceedings.
13 Who bears the other costs, if I am entitled only to limited legal aid?
Partial legal aid does not exist in Luxembourg.
14 Does legal aid also cover appeals?
No, you will have to submit a new application for legal assistance for that purpose.
15 Can legal aid be withdrawn before the proceedings are concluded (or even revoked after the proceedings have terminated)
The Chairman of the Bar Association may withdraw an applicant's right to legal aid, even after the proceedings or measures for which it was granted, if the entitlement is found to have been based on false declarations or incorrect documents. The right to legal aid may also be withdrawn if the beneficiary acquires financial means during the proceedings or during the completion of these measures or as a result of such proceeding or measures which, had they existed on the day that legal aid was requested, would have precluded any such entitlement. Legal aid beneficiaries or the lawyer appointed have an obligation to notify the Chairman of any such changes in their situation.
The Chairman's decision to withdraw the right to legal aid is immediately communicated to the Ministry of Justice (Ministère de la Justice). The Land Registration and Estates Department (Administration de l’Enregistrement et des Domaines) is responsible for recovering amounts already paid as legal aid.
16 Can I contest a refusal to give legal aid?
Applicants may appeal against the Chairman's decision to reject or withdraw legal aid to the Disciplinary and Administrative Council (le Conseil disciplinaire et administratif), whose decision is final. Appeals must be lodged with the Chairman of the Disciplinary and Administrative Council by registered letter within ten days of receiving notice of decision of the Chairman of the Bar Association The applicant will be given a hearing before the Council or one of its delegated members.
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