How to get free legal advice in South Africa

Several people are now settling for cost-free professional advocacy expertise because of its increased accessibility, and effectiveness.

Legal assistance is almost inevitable, especially when locking arms with the law or when dealing with disputes.

Unfortunately, finding affordable judicial intervention is proving difficult for most South Africans who cannot afford an hourly standard attorney fee of up to R400.

Luckily, for  those that cannot afford these high rates qualify for free legal intervention regardless of whether they are handling civil or criminal cases.

In civil matters, you must pass a means test, based on income, to qualify for assistance. The means-test ceiling is low, so aid is available only to the lowest income groups.

Read through this article to find out whether you qualify for free legal advice in South Africa.

Free legal aid South Africa

How can I get free legal advice? Here is everything that you need to know about free legal advice South Africa 2020 to help you with your concerns.

1. Who qualifies for free legal aid?

Most South Africans qualify for legal aid in most legal organizations. In some cases, you must pass the means test before receiving legal aid SA.

Note that children automatically qualify for free legal aid. In such cases, it is not necessary to undertake the means test. Other than cases involving children, those residing in SA can approach Legal Aid in the event that their cases are civil or involve asylum seekers. Those who qualify must meet the following criteria:

  • If you own a home, its total value and everything else that you own should not be worth over R640,000. Also, you must only have one house where you stay.
  • If you are not a homeowner, then the total value of everything that you own, e.g. furniture, car, clothes, and other personal stuff, should not exceed R128,000.
  • In the event that you are receiving a state grant, it is mandatory to take the means test, and present official documentation to prove that you are receiving a pension or state grant.
  • Those who are elderly are not required to take the means test but must prove that they are receiving a pension or state grant.

2. Is legal aid free in South Africa?

Those that qualify for legal aid receive full representation from Legal Aid South Africa at no cost. In the event that you lose the case, the organization representing you will incur all the charges.

3. Where can I get legal advice for free?

Several organizations are always willing to offer free legal advice. You will be sure to receive sufficient support on your rights as a parent, drafting of wills, cohabitation contracts, and outsourcing support from your baby daddy, among others, without incurring a penny. However, Legal Aid South Africa is the leading and most resourceful platform where locals can receive free legal interventions without incurring expensive charges.

4. What is Legal Aid SA?

Legal Aid is professional legal advice or representation provided to South Africans with the main aim of helping those that cannot afford their legal obligations in court. The body seeks to serve the interest of low-income earners who may otherwise remain on the shadow of justice, and those living with disabilities.

Legal Aid South Africa address

  • Postal Address: Private Bag X76, Braamfontein, 2017
  • Street Address: Legal Aid House, 29 De Beer Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2017

Legal Aid contact details

Note that hotline numbers are active on weekdays from Monday to Friday between 7 am to 7 pm.

  • Phone 1: 011 877 2000 (National office reception)
  • Phone 2: 0800 110 110 (Toll-free Legal Aid Advice line)
  • Phone 3: 0800 153 728 (Legal Aid Ethics hotline)
  • Phone 4: 079 835 7179 (Please-call-me number)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Facebook: @LegalAidSA1

You can also check out the Legal Aid self help portal for guidance on straightforward topics like writing of wills, admission of estates, and guardian’s fund. You can also have a look at the website for further clarification.

5. Do I have to pay back Legal Aid?

Most people do not realize that the organization representing your case will deduct all incurred costs from your grants if you win a civil lawsuit. However, Legal Aid lawyers should not charge clients for their representation until the case is won, and the contract is fulfilled.

6. What happens if I don’t qualify for legal aid?

If you fail to merit the means test, then you will likely have no option but to seek alternative ways. If you are still unable to find representation because of financial constraints, then you should try your luck with the following:

  • Consult legal aid societies
  • Visit small claims court
  • Visit a law school
  • Try pricing attorneys
  • Contact county or state bar associations
  • Boldly represent yourself in court

Get more legal aid South Africa in 2020

If you think that you qualify for legal aid, proceed to use the following legal aid contact number and details to access free representations:

1. Women’s Legal Centre

  • Phone: (021) 4211 380/ 021 424 5660
  • Website:
  • Location in Cape Town: 7th Floor Constitution House, 124 Adderley Str. (corner of Church Street)
  • Media queries: [email protected]
  • Helpdesk queries: [email protected]

2. Family Law Clinic

  • Website:

4. Lawyers for Human Rights

Location in Cape Town: 4th floor, Vunani Chambers, 33 Church Street, City Centre, Cape Town Website:

  • Tel: 021 424 8561
  • Fax: 021 424 7135

South Africans can alternatively access legal advice for free from the following institutions with Legal Aid clinics.

1. University of Cape Town

  • Location: Room 4.39 Wilfred and Jules Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch.
  • Phone: (021) 650 3551/3775
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Fax: 021 650 5665

2. University of Durban-Westville

  • Phone 1: (031) 204 4445
  • Phone 2: (031) 204 4821

3. University of Fort Hare

  • Phone: (04060) 22236

4. University of the Orange Free State

  • Phone: (051) 401 2451

5. University of Natal (Durban):

  • Phone: (031) 260 2867

6. University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg)

  • Phone: (033) 260 5778

7. University of the North

  • Phone: (015) 268 2903 8.

University of the North West

  • Phone: (018) 389 2510 9.

University of Port Elizabeth:

  • Phone: (041) 504 2190 10.

Potchefstroom University:

  • Phone: (018) 299 1950 11.

University of Pretoria

  • Phone: (012) 420 4158 12.

Rand Afrikaans University:

  • Phone: (011) 489 2141 13.

Rhodes University

  • Phone: (046) 603 8427 14.

University of South Africa

  • Phone: (012) 429 8439 15.

University of Stellenbosch

  • Location: 18-24 Crozier Street, Stellenbosch
  • Phone: (021) 808 3195/2 or 021 808 3600/3432
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Fax: 021 808 3720 16.

University of Venda

  • Phone: (015) 962 8217 17.

Vista University (Bloemfontein Campus)

  • Phone: (051) 505 1386 18.

University of the Western Cape

  • Location: Old Library Building, University of the Western Cape Campus, Modderdam Road, Bellville
  • Phone: (021) 959 2756/3291
  • Email: [email protected] 19.

University of the Witwatersrand:

  • Phone: (011) 717 8562 20.

University of Zululand

  • Phone: (035) 902-6192
  • Phone: (035) 793 3911

Can I get advice from a lawyer for free?

If you need legal representation or have queries about your rights but cannot afford to hire a lawyer, then you can turn to the state. Find and consult lawyers who work for pro bono or “For the Public Good” at no cost. You can find the pro bono lawyers on the Legal Practice Council’s online platform where you can lodge a complaint and download the application form. Alternatively, you can reach out to ProBono.Org that has volunteer private lawyers who offer cost-free legal services to the underprivileged. Here is there contact information:

  • Location: Suite 200, 57 Strand Street, Cape Town, 8001
  • Telephone: 087 806 6070/1/2
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Fax: 086 665 6740

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