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How to get legal aid in Malaysia

almost 6 years ago Arjun





This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.



There may be a moment in your life where you get into some legal trouble. Usually, when you are in such situations a lawyer would come in handy. However lawyers are not free, and their services may be expensive for some people.

Fortunately, Malaysia has certain legal bodies which actually provides legal aid for free or a subsidized rate, so that everyone can have access to legal assistance when needed. You can also read our full article on the subject here.

Note that Malaysia has 3 bodies providing legal aid (The Bar Council, Legal Aid Department, and the National Legal Aid Foundation). These 3 bodies provide legal aid for different types of situations, and have different requirements for who would qualify for legal aid.


Step 1: Determine if your case is criminal or civil

Image from legaldictionary

Usually if your case involves the PDRM and a public prosecutor, more likely than not it will be a criminal matter. If a normal private person is suing you, more likely than not it is a civil matter. So, why would you need to know what type of case you are involved in? It is because, you need to know which legal aid body will take your case.


Step 2: Choose a legal aid body

Image from freemalaysiatoday

There are 3 legal aid bodies to choose from in Malaysia:

  • Legal Aid Department(LAD): The generally handle criminal cases where the accused has pleaded guilty. So they would come in and help you get a lighter sentence. They also handle certain civil cases. 

  • Bar Council(LAC): Handles most criminal and civil cases. One main difference with the LAD, is that the Bar Council may take your case even if you plead not guilty in court.

  • National Legal Aid Foundation(YBGK): Handles any criminal cases, except those that involve the death penalty. 

[If you want to find out more about what each bodies do, check out our article: What to do if you can’t afford a lawyer in Malaysia]


Step 3: Sit for the qualification test

No studying will be required for this test. Image from themalaysiantimes

This test isn’t like those you used to sit for in school. These examinations are taken so that these legal aid providers can decide whether you qualify for legal aid. The test would basically be done to gauge your financial status.

The LAD actually allows you take an online test to see if you do qualify. However, you should know that the online test is not the final test. As for the LAC and and the YBGK, they require you to walk-in and fill out some forms to determine your eligibility.


Step 4: Show that you have a legit case

Bring all your necessary documents. Image from gettyimages

Once you pass the test for financial eligibility, you may have to sit for another test. This test would have nothing to do with your financial status, but more with your case. In essence, these legal aid bodies want to determine whether your case is legit or whether it’s worth their time taking it. The LAC and LAD employs a means test to determine this. YBGK on the on the other hand, does not employ a means test, because they believe it is your right to have a lawyer in a criminal case.

[We explain more about what these tests are about here: What to do if you can’t afford a lawyer in Malaysia]

To help them make a decision, it is advised you bring necessary documents like your IC, pay slips, police reports, and other documents related to your case. If you are not sure which documents would be related to your case, you can call up the relevant legal aid body to clarify.


Step 5: Follow the advice and instructions of your provided lawyer

The Melaka Bar’s legal aid campaign. Image from thestar


The steps previously mentioned exist to make sure those who truly deserve assistance get the help they need.

When you do qualify for legal aid, follow the advice of your appointed lawyers – go to court when they tell you, bring whatever documents they may need, etc. This would surely make the task of your lawyer easier and it would increase your chances of making sure there is a fair outcome from your case.

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