VAS FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


While VAS reserves the right to refuse any request, VAS will ordinarily accept requests from charities, NGOs and civic society groups such as MABS and Citizens Information. While we do not accept any requests from individuals, we will accept requests from organisations (listed above) voluntarily acting on behalf of individuals. We deal with each request on a case by case basis.

VAS can provide assistance in most areas of law including debt, housing, landlord and tenant, social welfare, employment and equality law. VAS does not provide services for Family Law, Child Care Law and Criminal Law as these are extensively covered by state legal aid schemes.

No. VAS does not provide assistance directly to individuals. 
We only accept requests from charities, non-government organisations and civic society groups such as MABS and Citizens Information acting on their own behalf or on behalf of individuals on a voluntary basis.

VAS requires at least three weeks' notice before any court date or imminent deadline in order to provide assistance. 
Such notice period will only be disregarded in exceptional circumstances.

VAS considers each request on a case by case basis. Contact by email should be made initially with the administrator of the scheme: VAS@lawlibrary.ie). Together with the co-ordinator, a decision will be made as to whether or not the case will be accepted. Each request should include the following information:

  • On whose behalf you are looking for assistance of VAS from;
  • The factual background and whether any degree of urgency arises;
  • Details of other attempts made to acquire legal assistance, including applications for Legal Aid. Details of the reasons that the applicant is unable to acquire legal assistance.
  • An undertaking to act as contact between your client and the Scheme. This is an important point as if the case is accepted, there can be no direct contact between the client and VAS. The NGO is the point of contact. VAS cannot under any circumstances take on individuals' cases. It only considers enquiries from NGOs and charitable organisations.
  • Please note that if the nature of the case is such that it comes within the remit of the Legal Aid Board applicants must apply to the Legal Aid Board for assistance before submitting an application to VAS.
  • If the enquiry is in relation to a case already fixed for hearing, the date the case is due in court. VAS requires sufficient notice of a hearing date before assistance can be granted. VAS requires 3 weeks' notice of any hearing date or deadline and such notice period will only be disregarded in exceptional circumstances.
  • Copies (not the original documents) of all correspondence should be posted to Voluntary Assistance Scheme, Distillery Building, 145-151 Church Street, Dublin 7, or scanned and emailed to VAS@lawlibrary.ie

Yes. VAS accepts requests from requests from charities, NGOs and civic society groups such as Citizens Information or MABS acting on their own behalf or on behalf of individuals. Voluntary organisations often encounter their own legal issues and are not in a position to afford legal advice – VAS can provide assistance in these circumstances.

The Bar of Ireland recognise that in order for any legal system to operate at its optimum level, access must be enjoyed by all stakeholders and all members of society. Vulnerable sections of society often encounter difficulties in accessing the legal system. While there are state run initiatives aimed at reducing such difficulties, these are insufficient and The Bar of Ireland strives to do what it can to address such a deficit.

Barristers in Ireland operate what is known as an Independent Referral Bar. This means that they do not source work directly from clients but rely on solicitors and, to a lesser extent, other professional bodies and organisations to refer work to them. As a result, the extent to which barristers can provide voluntary services largely depends on how much they are asked to provide those services by solicitors and other organisations.

The other alternatives for free legal assistance exist in the form of the State Legal Aid scheme and voluntary organisations such as FLAC, Community Law and Mediation Northside and Limerick, and the Ballymun Community Law Centre. The Legal Aid Scheme is restricted and under-funded, with long waiting lists. The other organisations do make use of barristers’ services for voluntary work, but these organisations are themselves over-subscribed and under-funded.

As a profession, the Bar has a long tradition of protecting and advancing the interests of less well-off members of society. We are anxious to continue and expand that tradition, but to do this the existing structures for providing barristers’ services need updating. This is why we set up the Voluntary Assistance scheme.

All members of the Bar are warmly invited to become actively involved with the voluntary assistance scheme. 
Please email us with the following details:

  • Name
  • Contact Details
  • Year of Call to the Bar
  • Legal Areas of Practice
  • Circuit
  • Any previous voluntary experience (this is not a requisite factor to be considered for inclusion in the scheme)

Yes. We have a number of solicitors who have indicated a willingness to assist the scheme in cases where court proceedings are imminent. 
Barristers can only act in court proceedings upon the instructions of a solicitor and therefore we always welcome expressions of interest to assist from new solicitors.