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Introduction

Legal Aid Queensland is created by and operates under the terms of the Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997 (the Act). An object of the Act is to provide for giving legal assistance to financially disadvantaged persons in the most effective, efficient and economical way.

Under the Act, Legal Aid Queensland may give legal assistance for legal services, other than duty lawyer services, for a court proceeding or an alternative dispute resolution process to an applicant for legal assistance only if the applicant meets the criteria published under a regulation or published by Legal Aid Queensland and notified in the gazette.

Section 11 of the Act permits Legal Aid Queensland to establish eligibility criteria for a grant of legal assistance and Legal Aid Queensland may give legal assistance only if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria.

This Policy Manual sets out those criteria. If a person meets these minimum eligible criteria, Legal Aid Queensland may then have regard to additional criteria set in the Grants Handbook in determining whether to grant legal assistance having regard to the particular circumstances set out in an application.

This Policy Manual also contains information about other policies and matters that govern the provision of legal assistance.

The term used to describe the giving of such legal assistance in this Policy Manual is usually a grant of legal assistance but the terms grant, legal aid or aid are also used.

A grant of legal assistance may be either:

  1. a whole of matter grant
  2. a stage of matter grant, or
  3. a disbursement grant.

A whole of matter grant of legal assistance is when a legal aid applicant receives a grant of legal aid that covers the entire legal proceedings. The details of the what the grant of aid will cover in terms of costs are normally set out in the grants approval letter. The grant of legal assistance only ends if:

  • it is terminated by Legal Aid Queensland
  • the legally assisted applicant elects not to proceed with the grant of legal assistance, or
  • at the conclusion of the proceedings.

A stage of matter grant of legal assistance is a grant of legal assistance for a particular stage of a matter. For stage of matter grants of legal assistance:

  • Legal Aid Queensland takes into account the merit of proceeding with a matter at the end of each stage before moving to the next stage, and
  • Legal Aid Queensland has only authorised the legal practitioner to complete work in the stage for which the approval is given, and
  • there are predetermined costs paid to the legal practitioner for the stage.

The grant of legal assistance will continue to the conclusion of the proceedings unless terminated by Legal Aid Queensland at an earlier stage.

A disbursements grant of legal assistance may be combined with either of the other two types of grants. These grants of legal assistance provide for the practitioner to incur third party costs under the grant of legal assistance. For example a grant of legal assistance to obtain a medical report.

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