National Legal Aid Foundation (NLAF)

What is the objective of establishing the NLAF?

  1. to fund legal aid and legal advice in connection with criminal proceedings for those who require such legal assistance; 
  2. to provide the services for lawyers in the private sector to represent those who require legal representation in criminal proceedings; 
  3. to encourage, conduct, fund and supervise research and relating to legal aid;
  4. to initiate and carry out educational programmes with the aim of increasing public awareness about their rights and obligations under the law ; and
  5. to provide information to the public about the availability of legal assistance for criminal matters by lawyers of the NLAF.

What is the type of services provided by NLAF?

NLAF provides legal assistance in criminal matters including Syariah criminal matters to all Malaysian at the stage of arrest, remand and bail application. The means test will only be conducted for the purpose of determining who is eligible for legal representation at the trial stage. Offences that carry the death penalty will not be covered by the NLAF for the time being as the court already provides assigned counsel to persons charged for such offences.

What is NLAF’s services coverage?

NLAF operates throughout Malaysia. However, for Sabah and Sarawak taking into consideration of human resource factors, it operates only in Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Penampang and Tuaran and in Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu respectively.

How NLAF operates?

For Peninsular Malaysia, NLAF operates through Legal Aid Centre under the Malaysian Bar, whilst for Sabah, Sarawak and Federal Territory of Labuan, NLAF operates through Legal Aid Department and works closely with Sabah Law Association and Advocates Association of Sarawak.

How to get NLAF’s services?

NLAF can be reached at toll free line no. 1-800-88-9245. All calls are connected to NLAF operation centre throughout Malaysia.

What are the conditions that I will have to satisfy in order to qualify for legal aid through the NLAF?

Legal aid and advice in criminal matters will be given to all Malaysian citizens during the following stages: arrest, remand hearing, charge and bail application. In order to receive representation at the hearing stage the accused person must satisfy the means test. Those who qualify to receive legal aid at the hearing stage are those who’s earning:   
  • does not exceed RM 25,000 per annum (they will not be charged anything).
  • is more than RM 25,000 but does not exceed RM 36,000 per annum (they will be charged nominal fees to be determined by the NLAF)  
Depending on the means test, those accused of all types of criminal offences can qualify to receive legal aid, except those who are charged with capital offences.

If I qualify to receive legal aid, how much will I be charged (if there are any charges)?

You will not be charged anything if you earn less than RM 25,000 per annum.  However, if your annual income exceeds RM 25,000 but does not exceed RM 36,000, you will be charged certain rates that will be determined by the NLAF’s Board of Directors.

Can I choose the lawyer who will represent me from the NLAF?

No, you may not.  The lawyer representing you will come from a panel set up by the NLAF and the allocation process will be based on a standard operating procedure determined by the NLAF.
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