Civil Litigation means disputes between individuals or companies that generally do not involve crimes. They can consist of disputes over accidents at work, wills, road traffic accidents and all matters of interaction between people in society. Of course the dispute can also involve a crime but the prosecution of crime but the prosecution of crime is dealt with by the Gardaí. While people can deal with their own civil litigation (they do not need to employ a solicitor) most people employ solicitors.
There is a provision that if somebody cannot afford to employ a solicitor then there is a limited availability of Legal Aid which is funded by the State and there are civil Legal Aid offices in most large towns which provide legal representation free of charge or for a nominal charge. The system is limited and means tested.
There is an extensive system of Free Legal Aid provided for people in criminal cases, both in the District Court and other courts and access to same is effectively dependent on the parties means and the severity of the criminal charge. Judges generally grant Free Legal Aid in criminal cases which means that the person charged with the crime does not have to pay for a solicitor or barrister as they are paid for by the State.