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Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme

The Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme (CLLAS) is an outlays only scheme helping financially disadvantaged people get access to justice for civil law claims where Legal Aid Queensland doesn’t give grants of aid. 

Outlays are expenses like expert investigations and medical reports, court filing fees and fees to copy documents. The scheme doesn't cover legal professional fees (eg getting a lawyer to represent you) and lawyers must agree to act on a 'no win, no fee' (speculative) basis.

About the scheme

The CLLAS is funded by the Public Trustee of Queensland and administered by Legal Aid Queensland.  The scheme operates under its own funding guidelines (PDF, 82KB) separate to Legal Aid Queensland's grants of aid.  

What cases does the CLLAS fund?

The CLLAS will consider funding civil law claims, including claims for personal injury, that meet its funding guidelines.  Priority is given to matters involving children or matters where you will lose your home or livelihood if you don’t take legal action.  The scheme can also help with public interest and ‘test’ cases, where other people would benefit in the future from your case going before a court.

What cases doesn't the CLLAS fund?

The CLLAS doesn't cover funding for:

  • environment impact/ development claims
  • total and permanent disability compensation claims
  • motor vehicle property damage claims
  • class actions
  • claims dealt with solely under Commonwealth law.

Making an application

You should get legal advice before making an application to the CLLAS.  It's important to get legal advice as soon as possible as there are laws which set strict time limits.

Some private legal practices may give free initial consultations but you should check this when you make an appointment.  Legal Aid Queensland lawyers don't give legal advice or provide representation in personal injury claims.

Getting legal advice from a legal professional will help you understand your legal rights and verify the claim’s prospects of success to help you decide whether it’s financially worthwhile to go ahead.

The CLLAS has a panel of private legal practices approved to do CLLAS work who have agreed to act on a ‘no win, no fee’ (speculative) basis in accordance with the scheme’s guidelines.  These approved legal practices are not obliged to represent clients and will only do so if they consider the claim meets their requirements.

If you need financial help to cover the cost of outlays, the CLLAS team can assess the suitability of your civil law claim for assistance and refer you to an approved legal practice.

Call 1300 65 11 88 for more information or  read the CLLAS a client’s guide or a lawyer’s guide.

Assessing an application

The 3 sets of criteria used to determine if someone is eligible for a CLLAS grant of aid are:

  • funding guidelines
  • a means test
  • a merits test.

CLLAS funding guidelines

The funding guidelines tell us the types of cases we can fund.  To be eligible for funding under the scheme the following criteria must be met:

  • There is no grant of legal aid available under Legal Aid Queensland’s eligibility criteria.
  • The civil law claim must be dealt with under Queensland law and within a Queensland court or tribunal.
  • The applicant must be represented by an approved legal practice.
  • The approved legal practice has agreed to speculate their professional fees.
  • There are reasonable prospects of the CLLAS recovering outlays.

CLLAS means test

The CLLAS has adopted Legal Aid Queensland’s means test guidelines to assess an applicant’s financial eligibility, except for the criteria relating to equity in an applicant’s principal place of residence.  Under the CLLAS guidelines, an applicant may have equity in their home of up to $320,000.

For more information about our financial eligibility requirements read the Can I get legal aid? factsheet

CLLAS merits test

Under the merits test consideration is given to:

  • 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 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
  • the nature and extent of any benefit that an applicant may get  if a grant of aid is approved
  • any detriment that an applicant may suffer if aid is refused
  • whether the expected quantum (amount) for the claim is more than $20,000.

Submitting a CLLAS application

After getting legal advice and finding an approved legal practice who has agreed to represent you on a ‘no win, no fee’ (speculative) basis, you can ask your lawyer to help you apply to the CLLAS for a grant of aid.

You'll need to complete a CLLAS application form (PDF, 485KB) and provide verification of your means (eg provide a copy of your centrelink income statement or payslips and current bank statements). 

Your lawyer will submit your application to the CLLAS along with a completed CLLAS checklist (PDF, 168KB) or letter with details about your claim, relevant supporting documentation and a budget for outlays needed to prepare your claim for settlement negotiations.

Email the application to: cllas@legalaid.qld.gov.au (preferred)

Or write to:
The Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme coordinator
Legal Aid Queensland
GPO Box 2449 Brisbane Qld 4001

Cost recovery

Funding provided by the CLLAS isn't free.  If your claim is successful or partially successful and you receive a payment or financial gain (money and/or property) you must refund the CLLAS for all outlays paid on your behalf.  You will also have to pay your lawyer's fees (they aren't covered by the CLLAS).

If your CLLAS application is approved, you will need to sign a Client Agreement and Acknowledgement (PDF, 245KB), agreeing to refund the scheme any outlays paid on your behalf on the successful or partially successful conclusion of your claim.  This is part of the condition of a grant of aid.

If your lawyer can't negotiate a settlement, your claim may have to go before a court or tribunal. You should keep in mind the court could award costs against you if your claim is unsuccessful. This means you may have to pay the other party’s legal costs, and these can't be claimed from the CLLAS, Legal Aid Queensland or the Public Trustee of Queensland. You should talk to your lawyer about the possibility of having to pay the other party’s legal costs before proceeding with your claim.

If your claim isn't successful, you won't have to pay your lawyer's fees or refund the CLLAS.

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