Legal Aid Application for Australians – Apply Online here. When services beyond simple legal advice are needed, you must apply for legal aid. A grant of legal aid means we will pay a lawyer to act for you. However, we will require you to make a contribution towards your legal costs depending on how much you can reasonably afford to pay. We will also require you to comply with some Conditions of Legal Aid as follows;
IMPORTANT CONDITIONS OF YOUR GRANT OF LEGAL AID
If you accept legal aid, you accept the conditions in this document. If you do not want legal aid on these conditions, tell us now. Please make sure you understand the conditions before accepting legal aid application.
LEGAL AID IS NOT FREE – there are several ways you could be asked to pay for your legal aid.
• Your contribution
We will work out how much you can afford to pay towards your case. The minimum contribution is $50.00 but it can be much more. You must pay the contribution to your lawyer before he or she can do any work for you. Large contributions may be payable in instalments. If you do not pay, your lawyer does not have to do any work for you. If you have a legal aid lawyer and you do not pay the instalments of contribution, we can collect the whole amount from you. We can charge more than one contribution on your case. We will write and tell you each time a contribution is due.
• A charge over real estate
If you and/or a financially associated person own or are buying real estate, we will take a charge over your property unless your case costs less than $2280.00. The charge makes sure that you pay back the whole cost of your case eventually. We do not sell this land but wait to collect the money when you decide to sell, transfer or re-finance it, or if you die. Most cases, apart from simple guilty pleas or very short criminal trials, cost more than $2280.00. Read our charge brochure and ask your lawyer about this.
• Paying back the cost of your case
a) If you get money from your legal case, such as costs, compensation, damages or property settlement you will have to pay back your legal aid in full. If you are successful in a Magistrates Court criminal law trial, we would normally expect you to instruct your assigned solicitor to pursue an order for costs on your behalf from the prosecution, unless there are good reasons not to do so, or your solicitor advises against such an legal aid application.
b) If we take a charge, the charge makes sure that you pay back your legal aid in full. If you need to know the cost of your case from time to time, ask your lawyer. This is your responsibility not ours. If you do not agree with your lawyer’s bill, you can have it checked by the court, although you may have to pay for this.
• Other costs you may have to pay
a) If you receive more money e.g. if you get a job, an inheritance or other payment, or if you become financially supported by someone else, this will affect your legal aid. You must tell us if this happens. We will then work out if you can still have legal aid and whether you have to pay another contribution.
b) If you lose your case, you may have to pay the other side’s costs. We cannot help you with these costs. You will have to pay them yourself.
c) If you get legal aid when you were not entitled to, we may require you to pay back the full amount. If you give us false, incomplete or misleading information, you could also be prosecuted.
d) We can change the conditions of legal aid at any time and this could mean that you have to pay more. e) We cannot pay for any work your lawyer has already done without a grant of legal aid. This is your responsibility.
WHAT YOU MUST DO?
a) You must tell us and your lawyer if you change address. If you are released from custody, you must tell us and your lawyer where you will be living. If we cannot contact you, legal aid can be stopped and your lawyer can stop work on your case.
b) You must tell us and your lawyer if your financial circumstances change. This includes if you get a job, marry, start living in a de facto relationship, separate, receive money etc.
c) You must follow your lawyer’s advice. Legal aid can be stopped if you do not do this.
d) You must tell your lawyer everything he or she needs to know about your case. e) You must tell us and your lawyer if you do not want legal aid. By accepting legal aid you accept the conditions. Ask your lawyer if you are unsure.
WHAT YOUR LAWYER MUST DO
a) Your lawyer must keep your case confidential, apart from some things which he or she must tell the other side, and / or the court.
b) Your lawyer must tell us what is happening in your case. If your lawyer thinks that you are unlikely to win the case, he or she must tell us and legal aid can be stopped.
c) Your lawyer must tell us of any changes in your circumstances which could affect your legal aid.
YOUR RIGHT TO APPEAL
If you do not agree with our decision in your case, or with a condition of legal aid application, you can appeal. To appeal you or your lawyer should write to us within fourteen (14) days of receiving your letter, telling us why you think the decision is wrong. When the Commissioners have decided your appeal, we will then write and let you know the result.
We will keep your legal aid matters confidential except in the following circumstances: a) If you ask us to provide information to someone else b) If you authorise someone else to get information from us c) If there is information your lawyer needs from us, or d) If we are required by law, including a court order, to release the information.
You can apply for legal aid application directly to us, or if you wish to be represented by a particular private lawyer, through that person’s office. Where possible, we will grant that request. If you have no particular lawyer in mind, we will arrange someone.
There are different arrangements in place for funding for a lawyer to act for you in relation to some matters, see below.
Online Applications – Legal Aid Application
An Online form for legal aid Application is available.
Different legal aid application forms must be used for the following matters:
Download Applications form for Legal Aid Application
If you are unable to complete the online application, you may download the Application form for Legal Aid Application (PDF, 1.51 MB).
To apply for aid you must fill in the application form and send it to a legal aid office together with proof of means. Usually, this will be a copy of a pension card (or, if working, two pay slips), and copies of bank statements for the last two months. These must be sent in with the application. If not, the application will simply be returned to you.
The cover of the application form need not be sent back. You should keep it because it explains the main conditions of legal aid.
If legal aid is granted, you will have to pay a contribution towards your legal costs. All successful applicants must pay a contribution to their legal aid. The minimum contribution for a grant of aid is $70 for family law matters and $50 for all other matters, but it can be more depending on your finances.
Refusals of Aid
If legal aid application is refused, you will be told why in a letter. Where aid is refused there is normally a right of appeal.
There are some cases for which we do not generally give legal aid. Often, this is because some other avenue of help is available. Also, we will not pay for cases where we think you can afford your own representation, or where the chances of success are poor.
The High Court has held that even a person charged with a very serious crime has no absolute right to legal representation, although in some specifically defined circumstances the person may be entitled to a permanent stay in the prosecution, as long as he or she remains legally unrepresented [ see R v Dietrich 1992 CLR 147]. If steps have not been taken to obtain assistance and the Court refuses an adjournment, a defendant might have to conduct her or his own defence without a lawyer.
In South Australia, the Criminal Law (Legal Representation) Act 2001 (SA) requires the Legal Services Commission to provide representation to a person charged with a serious offence, whether they would ordinarily be eligible for a grant of legal assistance under the Legal Services Commission Act 1977 (SA) or not.
A serious offence is defined as ‘an indictable offence under the law of the State that is to be tried in the Supreme Court or the District Court, and includes any summary offence that is to be tried together with such an offence in the same proceedings’.
Under this Act, the Commission can set conditions upon the person needing representation, which must be met or agreed to before representation is provided.
IF YOU NEED MORE INFORMATION
If you do not understand the conditions of aid or need more information about legal aid application, you can ask your lawyer, write to us, or come to one of our offices and speak to us about it.
159 Gawler Place
Phone: 8111 5555