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Everything you need to know about our criteria for granting aid. You have to apply for a grant of legal aid if you want a lawyer to represent you in court. But if you want to get legal information or advice about your problem, you can talk to us without going through the application process.
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Demand for our services is high, so we use strict criteria when granting aid for legal representation. This way we can make sure we are using our funding to help those who are least able to afford a lawyer.
We use three sets of criteria to determine if legal aid will be granted. These are the Legal Aid Queensland means test, funding guidelines and in most cases, a legal merits test.
The means test looks at your income and assets to see if you are financially eligible for legal aid.
If you support or provide financial help to other people (like a partner or child/ren), the means test will take this into account. If another person supports you, provides financial help to you or can be reasonably expected to provide you with financial help (like a partner), then the means test will take this person’s income and assets into account. Please ensure you include their income and asset details in your legal aid application.
You need to tell us about any money you regularly receive including:
If you rely on Centrelink payments for your income, you will usually be eligible for legal aid, as long as your assets are within the set limits. You should include Family Tax Benefit (Part A & B) payments, along with child maintenance and child support payments, as income.
Financial help is where another person regularly gives you money, helps pay your bills or shares your living expenses. This could be a relative, friend, or your current or former partner or spouse. If you are in dispute with a person you usually receive financial help from, we will not take their income and assets into account.
Assets taken into account include real estate (houses, land), cash, shares, debentures or other investments, and the assets of any person who helps you financially, unless you need legal aid because you are in dispute with that person. We do not include:
Equity is the asset’s value less any money owing on the asset (eg Mary’s house is worth $400,000 and her mortgage is $290,000. Mary’s equity in the property is $110,000).
If your assessable assets are more than $930 (or $1880 if you receive financial help from another person or are single with dependent children), you may not be eligible for aid or may have to pay some money towards your legal costs.
If you are seeking legal aid for a family law property settlement or domestic violence matter, you may have an interest of up to $200,000 in allowable assets that are in dispute with the other party.
If you are 60 years or over, you can have equity in your home up to $292,000 if you:
If you are a farmer or a small business owner, you can have equity in the farm or business up to the following limits:
A ‘homeowner’ is a person who owns or is paying off the house they live in.
Table 1 sets out how much gross weekly income you can earn and still be eligible for aid. You can use this table to check if you meet the requirements and to see if you might have to make a contribution towards your legal costs. Table 2 shows how much you could have to pay towards your legal costs based on the value of your assets. We will not approve your application if the amount you would have to pay towards your legal costs would be more than the grant of aid value.
We have developed guidelines to help identify applicants who would not usually meet our means test, but deserve special consideration because they experience multiple disadvantages. If you are experiencing domestic violence, live in a remote area, have an intellectual, psychiatric or physical disability or other disadvantage, you may be eligible for a grant of aid via our special circumstances guidelines.
The special circumstances guidelines relate to assets only. A condition may be attached to any grant of aid approved under the special circumstances guidelines. For example, you may be required to pay a contribution towards your legal costs, and/or you may be required to provide your property as security for payment of these legal costs to Legal Aid Queensland. For a copy of the guidelines, call us on 1300 65 11 88.
We assess the merit of each person’s case by looking at:
The guidelines tell us the types of cases we can fund, based on the priorities set for us by the state and federal governments. You can get a complete list of the priorities on our website at www.legalaid.qld.gov.au. The priorities are included in the Grants Policy Manual. Some of the priorities are:
You need to complete an application form, which you can get from our offices throughout Queensland, from our website or from one of our preferred supplier law firms in your area.
You should speak to a solicitor about your problem before you apply. You can arrange to get free legal advice about most personal legal issues by calling us on 1300 65 11 88 and making an appointment to speak to a lawyer.
When you complete your application form you will also need to include:
You can lodge your form by mail or in person at any of our offices around the state. The postal addresses for our offices are included on this factsheet. If a lawyer from one of our preferred supplier law firms completes the application for you, they can lodge it for you online.
We aim to assess about 80 percent of applications within five days. However many applications are complex and can take two weeks or more to properly assess. If you haven't received a response 14 days after lodging your application, please contact us.
You can appeal decisions made about your application by writing to us and explaining why you believe the decision was wrong. You should also include any extra relevant information you want us to consider with your request.
You have 28 days from the date you received your decision letter to write to us and let us know you want to appeal
Yes, we can organise for an accredited interpreter to help you. We are committed to making our services accessible to all people who need our services.
To have information about our application process explained in your language, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 to speak to an interpreter. Ask to be connected to Legal Aid Queensland. For the hearing impaired, call us via the National Relay Service: dial 133 677 and ask for 1300 651 188. These are free services.
Your feedback – complaints, compliments and suggestions – is welcome and we take it seriously.
To make a comment about the service you received from Legal Aid Queensland, you can complete our client feedback form. The form is available from your local Legal Aid office and our website.
You can also give us feedback by:
Number of children
Contribution free threshold gross income ($ per week)
Maximum income threshold gross income* ($ per week)
Contribution payable on gross income ($ per week) above:
* Aid is not normally granted where a client's income exceeds the maximum income threshold.
* Aid will not be approved if the amount would have to pay is more than the value of your grant of aid.
Don't forget to include copies of your pay-slips, bank account statements, tax returns and any documents about your problem with your application.