Applying for limited approval to provide legal aid services

This section is for lawyers seeking approval to provide legal aid services on a limited or ‘one-off’ basis. Lawyers can apply for limited approval under regulation 6B of the Legal Services (Quality Assurance) Regulations 2011.

Special circumstances which may give rise to a limited approval may include:

  • where a lawyer approved to do criminal legal aid work wishes to represent client in a straight-forward civil matter linked to the criminal proceedings and does not intend to provide civil legal aid services on an on-going basis.
  • where a lawyer has been representing a client on a private retainer, however the client’s financial circumstances have changed and they are now eligible for legal aid.
  • where a lawyer has specialist skills or experience in a type of proceeding that is essential to the progress of the case.
  • where there is a specific need for a lawyer to be approved in a proceeding, or type of proceeding, that is taking place in a region with a shortage of existing providers with the necessary skills and experience to act.

The Ministry has developed a policy to enable the Secretary for Justice to give lawyers limited approval to undertake specific legal aid cases or provide legal aid services in specific types of proceedings. In making a decision on a limited approval, we will take into consideration the lawyer’s relevant legal experience, whether there is a prior relationship with the legal aid client, and the availability of other approved lawyers.

Applications for limited approval must be made as soon as the need becomes apparent and before any legal aid or specified legal services are provided. Please note that a lawyer may not provide legal aid or specified legal services unless they have been approved and have entered into an agreement to do so (sections 69(b) and 75 of the Legal Services Act 2011).

Completing and submitting the application form

If you wish to apply for limited approval, you should complete in full all relevant sections of the limited approval application form [PDF, 267 KB]. Not all applicants will need to complete each section of the form.

You can either complete the application form online or print it and complete by hand. All completed forms should be emailed to

If you need further assistance or have any questions about legal aid provider approvals, the limited approval policy or the application forms, please email us at