What is Legal Aid?
Legal Aid is a provision of public funds to help a financially disadvantaged individual get legal advice or representation.
Is there a Legal Aid in Queensland?
Yes. Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) is a Queensland Government and Australian Government funded organization that provides help in family, civil and criminal law matters. LAQ has 14 regional offices and several community access points all over Queensland, where financially vulnerable individuals can seek free legal information and first advice. Free information is available to the public through the LAQ Website and hotline as well.
Legal Aid Queensland covers the following legal matters or problems:
- Domestic and family violence
- Child Support and Maintenance
- Child Protection
- Family Dispute Resolution
- Parenting Issues
- Relationship Issues
- Employment Matters
- Farm and Rural Legal Service
- Consumer and debt matters
- Social Security Appeals
- Property and Motor Vehicle Damage
- Criminal charges in the District Courts, Supreme Courts and Magistrates
- Court of Appeal Matters
- Children Court Matters
- Mental Health Court Matters
- Traffic and Driving Offences
What types of legal services does LAQ provide?
- Legal Advice (if you pass their eligibility criteria)
- Help in finding Legal Representation (a duty lawyer or your own lawyer)
- Family Law Matters mediation by a Lawyer
- Online Legal Information and Publications
- Community Legal Education
- Referrals to other organizations
How can I get Legal Aid to get me a Lawyer?
You are required to apply for a grant to get representation in the court. To get a legal aid grant, your legal problem should be within the scope of Legal Aid Queensland’s guidelines. You must also pass LAQ’s eligibility tests which include the following:
The Means Test – Applicants must provide all of their assets (cash, real estate, vehicles, and shares) and sources of income (salary and wages, investments income including trust funds, insurance claims, Centrelink benefits, and child support payments,) from which an initial contribution amount will be computed and will be required from the applicant. The test will determine if the applicant can be given legal assistance without contribution, with initial contribution, or is not eligible for legal assistance. An applicant will not be eligible for legal aid if the computed contribution amount is larger than the value of their grant.
The Merits Tests – An applicant must also pass the following three merits tests:
- Reasonable Prospects of Success Test – determining if the legal action or defense is likely to succeed
- Prudent Funding Litigant Test – determining if a self-supporting litigant will risk his or her own resources to fund the same legal action or defense
- Appropriateness of Spending Limited Public Legal Grants of Legal Assistance Funds Test –determining if the costs of providing legal aid is justified by the applicant’s or the community’s benefit.
These criteria are strictly implemented to make sure that the legal assistance will go to the individual who is most financially incapable to hire a lawyer.
How can I apply for Legal Aid?
You must get a legal advice first before you apply for legal aid. Call Legal Aid Queensland’s hotline or visit one of the regional offices to get free legal advice and set up an appointment with a lawyer. After that, you can apply for legal aid by completing an application form through their website. Be sure to choose Gatenby Criminal Law as your preferred lawyer for the best possible outcome.