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Can I get legal aid?

While you may want to represent yourself, you should find out if you can get legal aid for a lawyer to represent you for your appeal. If you have not already applied for legal aid for your appeal, you should apply as soon as possible. Even if you received legal aid for your sentence or trial, you must apply for legal aid again for your appeal.

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 (what you earn) and assets (what you own) 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.

The funding 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 www.legalaid.qld.gov.au

When you are applying for legal aid for an appeal you must also meet our merits test before aid can be granted.

We assess the merit of each person's case by looking at:

  • the legal and factual merits of the case and whether your case is more likely to succeed or fail on appeal
  • if a sensible person would risk their money to take the case to court
  • if the benefit you will receive from having a lawyer justifies spending limited public funds on your particular case.

A senior appeals barrister will decide if your case is more likely to succeed or fail on appeal. Legal Aid Queensland will refuse your application for aid if your appeal is more likely to fail then succeed.

We will send a letter to let you know your application's result.

If you are refused a grant of legal aid for your appeal, you can appeal this decision. You must write to the external review officer within 28 days of the refusal. Write to:

The external review officer
Legal Aid Queensland
GPO Box 2449
Brisbane Qld 4001

If you are refused legal aid for your appeal, or you do not want to be represented by Legal Aid Queensland, you can pay a private lawyer and barrister to represent you.

If you decide to pay a private lawyer and a barrister, you can call the Queensland Law Society to find a lawyer who specialises in appeals. Sometimes the Bar Association of Queensland can help you find a pro bono (no charge) barrister for appeals.

Queensland Law Society - 1300 367 757
The Bar Association of Queensland - 07 3238 5100

Community legal centres can also help you to find private legal services in your area. Call Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88 or visit www.legalaid.qld.gov.au to find out where your closest community legal centre is.

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