An application for legal aid must be made in the approved form (section 10 of the Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997).
To apply for legal aid, you need to complete an application form. To get an application form you can:
- download one from the documents section (at the bottom of this page)
- collect one in person from one of our 14 offices throughout Queensland
- call 1300 65 11 88 (between the hours of 8.30 am and 5.00 pm Monday to Friday) and ask for one to be mailed to you
- email email@example.com with your name and address and ask for one to be mailed to you
- contact one of our preferred suppliers (private law firms who do legal aid work).
Applicants or their solicitors must also provide:
- Proof of their income and assets (refer to the means test).
- Information and/or supporting documentation relevant to type of matter for which a grant of legal assistance is sought (as detailed in what do we fund?).
Legal Aid Queensland's in-house practitioners and preferred suppliers must electronically lodge applications for legal aid, extension of aid requests and invoices via a web based application called electronic lodgement that is accessed through Grants Online.
Practitioners must ensure that applications are lodged in a timely manner as any work performed on a matter prior to the aid effective date of the granting of aid remains the responsibility of the client unless retrospective aid is applied for and approved. Practitioners must also ensure that all personal and financial details in the application are current at the time of submitting the application to Legal Aid Queensland.
The Grants division of Legal Aid Queensland will process all electronic applications, extensions and invoices and advise the practitioner of their decisions by way of electronic mail. The electronic application form has been developed to allow practitioners to select the area of law for which aid is being sought. The parts of the form that are irrelevant to the client's application will not appear, eg if the application relates to a family law dispute, only the parts of the form which relate to family law will appear. Mandatory fields are identified with an asterisk.
Information requests / merit checklists
The electronic system may generate questions relevant to the aid or extension of aid sought in the form of an information request. Information requests are provided to allow the practitioner to indicate their opinion in relation to how the applicant meets Legal Aid Queensland's guidelines.
If the practitioner is unable to complete the information request it is unlikely aid will be approved.
Successful completion of an information request does not mean that aid will be automatically approved, the assessing officer will however take into account the information provided when assessing the request. The Grants division may seek further information if they can not determine the application on the information provided.
Printable versions of the information requests can be accessed via grants online/elodgement/printable merit checklists.
When files are audited the audit team will look for material on the file to support the information certified on the information request/merit checklist. If there is no supporting material on file the practitioner may be required to reimburse Legal Aid Queensland the costs paid.
Duty to disclose
Practitioners are obligated to inform the applicant that they have a duty to disclose to Legal Aid Queensland all relevant information that relates to their personal, financial and legal details when they apply for funding.
If an applicant fails to comply with the duty to disclose, Legal Aid Queensland reserves the right to terminate the grant of aid.
Practitioners must retain copies of the client's payslips, bank statements, and/or copies Centrelink benefits statement when electronically lodging applications for aid.
Practitioners are also required to attach relevant information such as:
- client's criminal history
- family reports
- bench charge sheets
- support affidavit material
- any other material to support the application.
Practitioners must retain a signed and dated completed application form on their file and provide the applicant with a copy of the conditions of aid which are located on the last page of the paper application form. Printed Grants Online application forms do not meet this requirement.
By submitting an application or extension for assistance, the practitioner is certifying that:
- the information they have provided is true and correct
- they have a signed application form on file
- they have provided the client with the conditions of legal aid.
A matter may be processed without a signed application for aid in urgent situations.
If an urgent grant of aid is required, the practitioner must telephone the grants offcer. Telephone requests for urgent grants of legal assistance are considered only when no facilities exist to electronically lodge, email, fax or to hand-deliver application forms and supporting material to Legal Aid Queensland.
Urgent applications may be processed in cases when the solicitor and applicant are at the court and the court is not prepared to adjourn the matter and it is not possible to fax, email or hand deliver the application prior to the grant of aid being required.
Before urgent aid is granted Legal Aid Queensland must be satisfied that the matter meets the guidelines, means and merits test and that the matter is urgent. If urgent aid is approved, it is done so on an interim basis. The interim grant of aid is sent to the practitioner but lapses within 14 days unless a formal application for legal aid is received. The interim grant of aid is conditional upon receiving the appropriate application form, supporting documentation and confirmation of the applicant's financial eligibility.
In urgent situations a matter may be processed without the application for aid being signed.
If a practitioner is requesting a grant of aid and the application form is unsigned they must telephone the grants officer and advise as to the urgency of the application and the circumstances that prevent the application for aid being signed.
Unsigned applications may be processed in cases when the applicant is unable to sign the application at the time of the application being submitted eg where client is in custody / psychiatric hospital / or appears unfit to provide instructions.
If aid is approved it is done so on the condition that the practitioner get the application for aid signed by the client at the earliest opportunity.
If a new application is received which is determined to be a duplicate application for a previously refused application, the assessing officer will re-assess the application taking the following into consideration provided the new application is received within 28 days of being refused:
- the previous decision,
- the previous decision date, and,
- the applicant's circumstances to identify if there are any material changes from the original, previously assessed application.
When considering all the available information, if the assessing officer determines the matter meets all appropriate eligibility criteria, aid will be approved.
If the decision is made not to approve aid on the duplicate application, the matter will be referred to a more senior officer for internal review.
Following an internal review a new decision will be communicated. If the decision is made to approve aid the applicant will be advised in writing of the approval. If the decision is to continue to refuse aid the new decision letter will set out reasons for the decision. Should the applicant or solicitor disagree with the internal review decision to refuse aid and the reasons provided they can request to have their application reviewed by an External Review Officer.
If the external review officer refuses funding the decision is the final avenue of review available from Legal Aid Queensland for a period of two years.
Incomplete applications for aid
Directly from applicants
Legal Aid Queensland considers that an application for aid received directly from an applicant is incomplete when:
- The application for aid is not signed.
- The applicant has not completed the means test section of the application for aid form and/or provided supporting documentation.
- The applicant has not provided sufficient information in order for Legal Aid Queensland to determine what the client's legal problem is.
- The applicant has not provided sufficient information in order for Legal Aid Queensland to assess their application for aid under the relevant guidelines.
- The applicant has not provided copies of the orders or legal documents which are requested on the application for aid form.
Applicants who provide incomplete applications for aid will be contacted to enable additional information to be obtained. The assessing officer will attempt to telephone the applicant to request the further information if it is easily obtained eg. address of other party. If the assessing officer is unable to contact the client by telephone or does not consider it appropriate to request the information over the phone, a request for further information letter will be sent to the client advising of the further information required in order to consider the application.
The applicant then has 28 days to provide the required information. If an applicant does not provide the information requested within 28 days, the application will automatically be finalised and no further follow up will occur.
If the applicant provides the information requested, the assessing officer will make a decision as to whether aid will be granted or refused. If the applicant provides only some of the requested information, the assessing officer will telephone the applicant and advise what information is still necessary to enable a decision to be made. At this point if all required information is not forwarded within the 28 days, the application will be automatically finalised.
Received from practitioners
Applications for aid received from preferred suppliers and the in-house legal practitioners which are lodged electronically via the Grants Online System are all deemed to be complete applications for aid and can be processed by an assessing officer without requesting additional information. The assessing officer, however, has the discretion to request additional information if they consider it is required in order to assess the application.
Outstanding debt owing to Legal Aid Queensland
If an application for legal aid is received from a client who has an outstanding debt with Legal Aid Queensland the details provided on the application will be provided to the revenue officer who will decide whether to pursue the outstanding debt before the assessing officer processes the new application for aid.
Family law capping
Aid in family law matters (with the exception of independent children's Lawyer costs, enforcement proceedings and appeal relating to final orders) are subject to commitment caps of $13,000 on party professional costs (including counsel, expert reports, and most disbursements).
The expenditure on a matter remains current for capping purposes until two years after the final orders are made.
A matter is defined as any dispute involving the same parties about the same or substantially the same issue(s).
Prior to assessing the new application, assessing officers will conduct a previous dealing search to determine whether the applicant has had a family file(s) finalised within the last two years that relate to the same matter. If an applicant has a related family law file(s) finalised within the last two years, the assessing officer will review the previous file(s) and determine whether it is appropriate to include this expenditure, The expenditure from the previous file will be added to the commitment on the new file for capping purposes.
If the total amount of expenditure on the previous file(s) is greater than the relevant cost cap, it will be referred to the manager of grants to consider approving an excess of the cost cap.