Free legal aid

Find out whether you are entitled to free legal aid and under what conditions you can get it

The purpose of free legal aid is to achieve equality of all before the law, to ensure the effective exercise of legal protection and access to court and other public bodies, and it is provided as primary or secondary legal aid.

Primary legal aid

Primary legal aid includes:
  • General legal information
  • Legal advice
  • Drafting submissions to public bodies, the European Court of Human Rights and international organizations in accordance with international treaties and rules of operation of these bodies
  • Representation in proceedings before public bodies
  • Legal aid in out-of-court amicable dispute settlement.
Primary legal aid is provided by administrative authorities in counties, the City Office for General Administration of the City of Zagreb, authorized associations and legal clinics.

Secondary legal aid

Secondary legal aid includes:
  • Legal advice
  • Drafting submissions in the procedure of protection of workers' rights before the employer
  • Drafting submissions in court proceedings
  • Representation in court proceedings
  • Legal aid in amicable dispute settlement.
Secondary legal aid is provided by attorneys at law.

Secondary legal aid also includes:
  • Exemption from payment of court costs 
  • Exemption from payment of court fees.

Who is entitled to free legal aid

You have the right to request free legal aid if you are:
  • A Croatian citizen
  • A child who does not have Croatian citizenship and was found in the Republic of Croatia unaccompanied by an adult responsible under the law
  • A foreigner on temporary residence subject to reciprocity or an alien on permanent residence
  • A foreigner under temporary protection
  • A foreigner who is staying illegally and a foreigner on a short-term stay in the procedures of issuing a decision on expulsion or a decision on return
  • An asylum seeker, a foreigner under subsidiary protection and members of your family legally residing in the Republic of Croatia, in proceedings in which legal aid is not provided for by a special act.

Initiation of the procedure for obtaining primary legal aid

You initiate the procedure for obtaining primary legal aid by directly contacting the provider of primary legal aid—an authorized association, legal clinic, county administrative authority or the City Office for General Administration of the City of Zagreb. There is no need to fill out a special application form.

You initiate the procedure for obtaining secondary legal aid by submitting an application for approval of use of secondary legal aid, on the prescribed form, to the City Office for General Administration of the City of Zagreb, or to the competent administrative authority in the county in whose territorial jurisdiction you reside.

You can download the application form for approval of use of secondary legal aid from the Documents section or obtain it in the administrative authorities in the counties and the City Office for General Administration of the City of Zagreb. 

With your application you need to enclose your written consent and the written consent of your household members to allow access to all information on total incomes and assets, confirming that the information you have provided is accurate and complete.

The consent to allow access to all information on total incomes and assets is not submitted by members of your household who participate in the proceedings as your opponents or whose interest is contrary to your interest.

Conditions for granting legal aid

You can get primary legal aid under the following conditions:
  • If you do not have sufficient knowledge and ability to exercise your right
  • If you are not provided with legal aid under special regulations
  • If the submitted request is not manifestly unfounded
  • If your financial circumstances are such that the payment of professional legal aid could jeopardize your subsistence and the subsistence of members of your household.
You can get secondary legal aid under the following conditions:
  • If it is a more complex procedure
  • If you do not have the ability to represent yourself
  • If your financial circumstances are such that the payment of the necessary professional legal aid could jeopardize your subsistence and the subsistence of your household members, in accordance with the special assumptions relating to the applicant's financial situation
  • That it is not reckless litigation
  • If your application has not been rejected in the last six months from the date of application due to intentionally providing incorrect information
  • If you are not provided with legal aid under special regulations.
Depending on the type of procedure, you can obtain secondary legal aid in the following procedures:
  • In relation to real rights, except for land register procedures
  • From labour relations
  • From family relations, except in proceedings of consensual divorce in which the spouses do not have any children together or do not have any adopted children or children to whom they provide parental support after they reach the age of majority
  • Enforcement proceedings and insurance proceedings in the case of enforced recovery or securing of a claim arising from proceedings for which legal aid may be granted in accordance with the provisions of the Free Legal Aid Act
  • Amicable dispute settlement
  • Exceptionally, in all other administrative and civil court proceedings when such a need arises from your specific life circumstances and the circumstances of your household members, in accordance with the fundamental purpose of the Free Legal Aid Act.

Secondary legal aid may be granted if your financial situation meets the following conditions:
  • Your total incomes and the incomes of your household members do not exceed the amount of the budget base per household member per month (HRK 3,326.00)
  • The total value of your assets and assets of the members of your household does not exceed the amount of 60 budget bases (HRK 199,560.00).

The determination of one’s financial situation does not take into account the part of the property in which you live together with members of the household, if it is owned by you or the members of your household, then the total incomes and assets of household members who are participating in the proceedings as your opponents or whose interest conflicts with your interest, as well as certain types of income (e.g. child allowance, etc.).

Secondary legal aid will be granted to you even if the conditions related to your financial situation are not met, if for objective reasons you cannot dispose of the total incomes and assets and if the part of the total incomes and assets you can dispose of does not exceed the prescribed amounts.

Individual applicants are granted secondary legal aid without determining their financial situation:
  • Children in the procedures for exercising the right to alimony
  • Victims of the criminal offence of violence in the procedure for exercising the right to compensation for damage caused by this criminal offence
  • Persons who are beneficiaries of subsistence benefit in accordance with special regulations governing the exercise of rights from the social welfare system
  • Persons who are beneficiaries of the right to a living costs allowance under the Act on the Rights of Croatian Homeland War Veterans and their Family Members and the Act on the Protection of Members of the Armed Forces and Civilians Disabled in War.

Exemption from court costs may be granted for those types of proceedings in which secondary legal aid may be granted, if your financial situation is such that the payment of an advance on the costs of the proceedings could jeopardize your subsistence and the subsistence of your household members, in accordance with the conditions relating to the applicant's financial situation. When making a decision, special attention will be paid to the amount of costs of the court proceedings in which such exemption is requested.

Exemption from court fees can be granted in all court proceedings (civil proceedings and administrative disputes) if your financial situation is such that the payment of court fees could jeopardize your subsistence and the subsistence of your household members, in accordance with special conditions relating to the applicant's financial situation. When making a decision, special attention will be paid to the amount of court fees in the proceedings in which such exemption is requested.

Decision and assignment of an attorney

The county administrative authority, i.e. the City Office for General Administration of the City of Zagreb is obliged to decide on your application within 15 days from the date of submission of an orderly application.

If you meet the conditions for exercising the right to secondary legal aid, your use will be approved by issuing a decision on granting legal aid. The decision will also determine the attorney at law who will provide you with legal aid and to whom you must submit the decision.

Exceptionally, the administrative authority will appoint another attorney at law to you with their prior consent enclosed with the application for granting legal aid.

Granting secondary legal aid refers to fully or partially securing the payment of legal aid costs depending on the amount of your incomes and the incomes of your household members. More specifically, there is a possibility that you as a beneficiary of legal aid, depending on your financial situation, participate in the costs of the proceedings in a certain percentage.

Deadline for appeals

You can file an appeal against the decision on the application for granting secondary legal aid within 15 days from the date of delivery of the decision. The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration will decide on the appeal within eight days from the date of receipt of an orderly appeal. You can initiate an administrative dispute against the decision of the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration.

Free legal aid in cross-border disputes

A cross-border dispute is a dispute in which the applicant for free legal aid has permanent or temporary residence in a member state of the European Union which is not the member state in which the court is acting or in which the court decision has to be enforced.
 
Free legal aid in cross-border disputes is granted in civil and commercial matters, conciliation proceedings, out-of-court settlements, execution of public documents and provision of legal advice in these proceedings, while the provisions on cross-border disputes do not apply in tax, customs and other administrative proceedings.
 
An applicant who has permanent or temporary residence in the Republic of Croatia and who seeks free legal aid in a cross-border dispute before the court of another European Union member state submits the application to the City Office for General Administration of the City of Zagreb or the administrative authority in the county of their permanent or temporary residence. The competent administrative authority forwards the request to the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration within eight days from the receipt of the application, which application the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration will translate together with the attached documents into the official language or one of the official languages of the European Union member state and the competent receiving authority and forward these to the competent authority of the member state of the European Union in which the court is acting or in which enforcement of the judgment (receiving authority) is requested within 15 days from the receipt of the application.

If free legal aid is not granted, the applicant is obliged to reimburse the costs of translation. The applicant may also apply directly to the authority competent to receive the application in the member state of the European Union in which the court is acting or in which the judgment is to be enforced.
 
An applicant who has permanent or temporary residence in a member state of the European Union and who seeks free legal aid in a cross-border dispute before a court in the Republic of Croatia is entitled to free legal aid in accordance with the provisions of the Free Legal Aid Act. The applicant or the competent authority of the member state in which the applicant had permanent or temporary residence (sending authority) submits the application for free legal aid in the Republic of Croatia to the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration (receiving authority).
 
Forms and attached documents must be submitted translated to Croatian, otherwise the application will be rejected.
 
You apply for free legal aid on the forms that you can download in the Documents section.