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According to the UAE's Constitution, everyone should have easy access to a competent lawyer. Picture used for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: If you are facing legal issues in the UAE but cannot afford a lawyer or court fees, you can seek help from legal aid and pro bono programmes provided by local courts in the country.

The UAE offers various resources for judicial aid and ensures that everyone has access to justice. According to the UAE's Constitution, everyone should have easy access to a competent lawyer. Economic and social circumstances should not hinder anyone from accessing justice easily.

Here's a breakdown of the free legal aid options available in the UAE.

1. Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) - free legal aid

ADJD provides free legal services including legal representation in court, settlement of expert witness fees, and covering the costs of advertising legal notices in newspapers.

The aid is based on certain eligibility criteria such as the seriousness of the case and the income of the beneficiary of the service. ADJD provides legal guidance in the following ways:

• By personal attendance - In-person attendance of legal consultations
• By telephone - Through the call centre numbers (mentioned below), where applicants may call the Legal Aid Section.
• Assigning a lawyer - A lawyer is appointed to defend litigants in all stages of the cases being adjudicated by ADJD courts, as per the approved standards.
• Payment of expert fees - ADJD also bears the cost of the expert fees in full, when financially distressed people are ordered under a court judgment to have an expert assigned for studying the case filed by or against them.
• Costs of notice service publication - ADJD also bears expenses of serving notices by publication in newspapers when financially distressed people are ordered under a court judgment to do so for cases filed by them.

Working hours for the Legal Aid section

7.30am to 2pm during weekdays.

Contact numbers:

• Abu Dhabi: 026512926 – 026512657 – 026513074 - 026513732
• Al Ain: 037047273 – 037047160
• Western Region: 026513172

2. Dubai Courts’ ‘Shoor’ Programme

Dubai Courts’ free legal consultation programme 'Shoor' (Arabic for consult us) service offers free consultations with authorised law firms.

Under the programme, legal firms in the UAE specify the number of hours for which they can offer consultation per month. The Litigant Guidance division of Dubai Courts supervises the implementation of the programme and gets litigants in touch with the participating law firms. You can contact Dubai Court’s call centre – 04 334 7777 to request for their legal aid service.

Conditions for the free legal aid service:

• Free advice is provided to financially distressed individuals only, excluding companies.
• It is a one-time service for pre-filing legal advice.
• Free advice is provided on the types of cases.
• Legal advice is provided to a customer by a lawyer or legal advisor working for a law firm licensed in Dubai.

The legal advice is provided to a customer over the phone or in person at the law firm, at the law firm's discretion. The session is around 30 to 60 minutes.

Working hours:

• Monday to Thursday - 7am to 2.20pm
• Friday until 11.20 am

3. The Voluntary Legal Services Smart Portal or ‘Ask A Lawyer’

The Voluntary Legal Services Smart Portal is designed to ensure that financially disadvantaged individuals can access free legal services. The service is provided by the Government of Dubai’s Legal Affairs Department and is available through the Dubai Now application.

If you need legal advice, you can access the ‘Ask a lawyer’ service and submit a request to receive pro bono voluntary legal advice. The service is provided by lawyers and legal consultants registered with the Legal Affairs Department.

1. Open the Dubai Now app (available for Apple and Android devices). Log in with your UAE Pass.
2. Go to the ‘Justice’ category and select the ‘Ask a lawyer’ service.
3. Select your preferred language.
4. Select the communication method – in person, telephone or both.
5. Select the area of law you need legal help in.
6. Select the related jurisdiction – free zone or mainland.
7. Choose the law firm from the list of options.
8. Next, select the day and time from the slots available for the advisory, and confirm your query. You will then receive a call or can visit the advisory at the allotted time.

4. DIFC Courts' Pro Bono Programme

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts’ programme focuses on legal matters within the DIFC free zone, specifically civil cases, excluding family and criminal law.

The legal aid service was implemented in 2009 and allows individuals who cannot afford a lawyer to seek free advice and representation from legally qualified volunteer lawyers. The Programme offers services from basic one-time legal advice to full case management and representation in court proceedings.

Eligible individuals must certify that they do not have the financial means to pay for legal advice.

How can I get free legal advice?

• Free legal clinics are held bi-weekly at the DIFC courts for walk-in consultations from 9am to 12pm, every Tuesday and Thursday.
• Online consultations are also available for those who cannot attend the clinics in person. You can fill out the form for an online consultation by visiting this link from the DIFC website -

Legal aid services provided by DIFC

• Legal representation
• Cost-free trials
• Fee suspensions