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Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme 

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Introduction

The Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme (CLLAS) was set up by the state government so Queenslanders could access legal assistance for civil law matters to be dealt with by Queensland courts or tribunals in line with Queensland laws.

The scheme is funded by the Public Trustee of Queensland and administered by Legal Aid Queensland.

Background

The CLLAS was introduced to help financially disadvantaged people get access to justice for civil law matters where Legal Aid Queensland does not provide grants of aid.

The scheme provides assistance with outlays associated with civil claims, which have been approved under the CLLAS guidelines.

The scheme considers all civil litigation cases but priority is given to matters involving children or matters where, if not litigated, the applicant would lose their home or livelihood.

CLLAS guidelines

The CLLAS guidelines (PDF, 82KB) have been agreed by the Public Trustee of Queensland and Legal Aid Queensland. The Public Trustee of Queensland has appointed Legal Aid Queensland’s chief executive officer as their delegate and agent for administering the scheme.

Applying for legal assistance from CLLAS

Before applying for assistance from the CLLAS, applicants should get legal advice about their civil claim.

Receiving legal advice will help verify there is a potential claim and inform the applicant about the steps they may need to take before applying to the scheme for assistance. See the legal advice area for more information about getting legal advice.

Only applicants represented by an approved legal practice are eligible for a grant of aid under the CLLAS. Applicants who are not represented by an approved legal practice can submit applications direct to the CLLAS, but we cannot process the application until the applicant has located an approved legal practice that is willing to represent them on a speculative (no win no fee) basis. The CLLAS will provide a letter to the applicant explaining how the scheme operates and a list of approved legal practices for them to contact. We will hold the application for 90 days to allow the applicant time to locate an approved legal practice and for the legal practice to contact the scheme. If we are not contacted by an approved legal practice about the application within 90 days, or within a time frame approved by the CLLAS, the application will be refused.

Applicants who are represented by an approved legal practice should submit an application through their lawyer. The application must be accompanied by a letter from the lawyer providing sufficient supporting information to allow the CLLAS to assess the merit of the proposed claim. The application must include:

  1. a summary of the basis of the claim or action for which aid is being sought, including where possible, some form of independent evidence that supports the claim
  2. an itemised list of outlays, with an estimate of cost, for which aid is requested
  3. an estimate, based on the information currently available, of the expected range of quantum for the claim
  4. an estimate, based on the information currently available, of the claim’s prospects of success
  5. confirmation that the legal practice is representing the applicant on a speculative (‘no win, no fee’) basis.

You can print an application form (PDF, 485KB) from this website or pick up a copy from any Legal Aid Queensland office.

Applications should be forwarded direct to the scheme's coordinator at Legal Aid Queensland’s Brisbane office.

Assessing applications

All applications must meet the following criteria:

  • There is no grant of legal aid available to the applicant under Legal Aid Queensland eligibility criteria
  • The civil claim or action must be dealt within the Queensland courts or tribunals under Queensland law
  • The applicant must be represented by an approved legal practice
  • The approved legal practice has agreed to speculate their professional fees (ie provide services on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis).
  • The applicant meets the CLLAS means test
  • The application meets the CLLAS merits test or comes within the scope of the Public interest/test case criteria
  • There are reasonable prospects of the CLLAS recovering funds.

Priority is given to matters involving children or matters where, if not litigated, the applicant would lose their home or livelihood.

The CLLAS will not provide aid for the following matters:

  • environmental impact/development claims
  • total and permanent disability compensation claims
  • motor vehicle property damage claims
  • class actions
  • family/defacto relationship property claims
  • claims solely under Commonwealth law.

Applications are assessed by Legal Aid Queensland and the Public Trustee of Queensland.

Legal Aid Queensland and the Public Trustee of Queensland may use their discretion to refuse any matter due to budget constraints.

Means test

Applicants must be financially eligible under Legal Aid Queensland’s means test guidelines, but do not need to meet the criteria relating to equity in their home. Under the CLLAS, an applicant may have equity in their home of up to $320,000.

In some circumstances, applicants may be required to pay an initial contribution towards their legal costs. The contribution is calculated using Legal Aid Queensland’s initial contribution tables.

If an initial contribution is imposed, the applicant must pay the contribution to the legal practice that is representing them. The legal practice must use the contribution to pay all or part of the outlays for which aid has been approved.

The applicant and the approved legal practice must notify the CLLAS of any change to the client’s financial circumstances during the time the grant of aid is active.

Merit test

All applications are subject to a merits test. The merit test considers:

  • whether the claim or action has reasonable prospects of success
  • the likely costs to be incurred by the CLLAS
  • whether a prudent self-funding litigant would risk their own financial resources in funding the proposed claim/action/application, for which a grant of aid is sought
  • the appropriateness of spending public funds having regard to the demand on the CLLAS and the limited resources available to fund applications
  • the nature and extent of any benefit that may accrue to the applicant, if aid is approved
  • any detriment that may be suffered by the applicant, if aid is refused
  • whether the expected quantum for the claim is more than $20,000.

The application will be approved if the CLLAS considers the claim has sufficient merit to justify aid being granted. In some circumstances, aid may be approved initially to investigate the claim, and depending on the outcome, further aid may then be considered.

Public interest/test cases

The CLLAS may consider funding public interest or test cases in certain circumstances.

A public interest or test case is one where:

  • the action involves an issue of broad public importance where the determination of the issue will benefit the general public, or a section of the public, or
  • the matter deals with a previously untested legal issue but its determination could be applied for the benefit of other potential litigants.

When making decisions about potential public interest or test cases, the CLLAS will consider the appropriateness of spending public funds on the matter, having regard to the demand on the scheme and the limited resources available to fund applications.

Recovery of costs

When their claim or action has been successfully finalised, the client, through their legal practice, must refund Legal Aid Queensland for all grants of aid paid by the CLLAS. These conditions are explained in the Client Agreement and Acknowledgement form, which all clients must sign.

Legal Aid Queensland must be refunded for all outlays paid by the CLLAS before settlement funds are distributed to any other party.

Where a client can’t enforce a settlement or order/judgment, the client must demonstrate to the CLLAS, through the legal practice representing them, that all reasonable recovery and enforcement action has been taken and was unsuccessful.

If a claim or action is unsuccessful, or enforcing a settlement/order/judgment is unsuccessful, the applicant is not required to refund the CLLAS.

The CLLAS will not pay any orders made by the court requiring the applicant or their legal practice to pay the legal costs of the other party.

Approved legal practices

The CLLAS has a panel of approved private legal practices that have agreed to consider representing clients according to the scheme's guidelines.

The approved legal practices will only represent clients if they consider their claim/action fits within their practice’s requirements for speculative matters. They are not obligated to represent CLLAS clients.

Right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to Legal Aid Queensland or the Public Trustee of Queensland about refusal decisions issued by the CLLAS. However, the CLLAS will reconsider any decision to refuse aid if provided with new relevant information.

CLLAS application form

Download the Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme application form (PDF, 485KB).

Forms are available at any Legal Aid Queensland office or by calling 1300 65 11 88.



Last modified: 4 December 2014 11:11AM
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Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme