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Application for legal representation

 

Important: Please read this section BEFORE filling in and sending your application form to Legal Aid WA. The application form alone MAY NOT give enough information for Legal Aid WA to assess if you will get legal aid.

What do you need to do?

Fill in the Legal Aid WA application form relating to your legal matter.

NOTE: You will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the application forms.

Family Law Application Form
Criminal Law Application Form
Civil Law Application Form

 

Bring or submit your application form (with any other documents we have listed listed below) to your local Legal Aid WA office.

Need help?

If you need help to fill in the form, call your local Legal Aid WA office, or come in to see us.

About Legal Aid WA

Legal Aid WA is independent, statutory authority and is not a government department.  

We may be able to help you if you have a legal problem and can't afford a lawyer.   

We understand that going to court can be stressful and expensive.  We will encourage you to consider all the alternative ways to settle your matter.  These may include negotiation and where suitable, mediation.

Legal Aid WA provides:

  • low cost legal advice
  • self help services
  • community legal education
  • information about mediation and counselling alternatives
  • legal representation

We help people to solve legal problems fairly, quickly and effectively. For more information about our services, contact the Legal Aid WA InfoLine on 1300 650 579 or come in to an office to discuss how we can help you.

When to use the Legal Aid WA application form

If you need a lawyer to represent you, fill in the form, and bring or send it to your local Legal Aid WA office. If your application is successful, you will get a "grant of aid". If you are granted legal aid, a lawyer will be assigned to represent you. Legal Aid WA will allocate an amount of funds to your lawyer to cover the first stage of your legal representation. For more information see Conditions of a grant of aid.

Legal aid is not free. You may be asked to make a payment towards the cost of providing legal aid to you.  You can find more information about contributions here. 

Conditions of a grant of aid

  1. You or your lawyer must tell us immediately if:
    (a) you change your address while you are receiving a grant of aid
    (b) there is any change in your income or expenses after you applied for a grant of aid or
    (c) there are any other changes which may affect your eligibility for a grant of aid.

  2. You must tell any lawyer who is acting for you to give us any information that we need. You must also tell any lawyer who has acted for you in the past to give us any information we need.

  3. You may be required to pay part or all of the costs of the grant of aid.

  4. Your lawyer may receive money on your behalf while you are receiving a grant of aid. They must keep enough money to cover the cost of your grant of aid.

  5. If you win your case and the other party pays your costs, the money must be paid to Legal Aid WA. If the costs paid do not cover all the costs of the grant of aid, you may be asked to pay the difference.

  6. Legal Aid WA may require a memorial on your property.

  7. Legal Aid WA may stop or change your grant of aid if you do not follow the conditions or the advice of your lawyer.

How to fill in the application form

Fill in the application form, answering all questions truthfully. You must tell us everything you know about your case. It is a serious offence to make a false or misleading statement or not to tell us everything you know. Tell us if you are frightened for your safety, or the safety of a child. 

You do not need a lawyer to apply for a grant of aid. 

If you have a lawyer your lawyer must tell us:

  • the details of your legal problem
  • whether you are likely to win your case, or benefit from the grant of aid.

Your lawyer cannot approve a grant of aid or refuse your application. Legal Aid WA makes the decision whether you qualify or do not qualify for a grant of aid. If your application is refused, you may have to pay for the work done by your lawyer. You should talk to your lawyer about what is to happen if your application is not successful.  Ask your lawyer to explain this to you.

Documents and additional information

Financial information

When submitting your application for legal aid, you need to provide photocopies of the following documents:

  • bank statements or passbooks for the last two months
  • your Pension or Health Care Card
  • payslips for the last eight weeks (if you are or were working)  
  • your most recent tax return or notice of assessment, if you are self-employed
  • any other documents relevant to your application.

We may need other documents about a financially associated person (a spouse or defacto partner), company, trust, or partnership.

Information for other matters

Your legal problem may not fall within one of the general legal categories. Additional information about other legal categories and the documentation needed to support your application for legal aid can be found here.   

How do we decide?

We carefully consider:

How long do we take?

If we consider your problem is very urgent, we will prioritise the application.

Examples of matters considered urgent are:

  • a child's safety or welfare is at risk
  • there is an immediate risk of removal of a child from Australia or to a more remote part of Australia
  • you have a court appearance within the next week (this does not include an appearance in a criminal matter for a remand - you can see the Duty Lawyer for representation on a remand).

Make sure any additional information is included with your application for legal aid.  This will help us to assess your application without unnecessary delays.

As soon as a decision is made, we will write to you and your lawyer (if your lawyer applied for you), and tell you about our decision.

If you are successful

This letter will set out what legal aid has been granted for and will include the amount the lawyer has been given by Legal Aid WA to charge for your matter. You do not have to pay this amount to your lawyer. This is the amount Legal Aid WA will pay to your lawyer under the grant of aid.

This amount represents the first stage of your legal assistance. As your matter progresses extensions (increases in the amount granted by Legal Aid WA) will be made. The cost of providing legal assistance will increase and you may be required to pay a contribution toward the costs. 

Choosing your lawyer

It may not be possible to get the lawyer you want. You may be given either a Legal Aid WA lawyer or a private lawyer. If you want a particular lawyer, write their name in your application form. Otherwise we will choose one for you.

Changing your lawyer

If you want to change your lawyer, write to Legal Aid WA and tell us why. Changing your lawyer increases the costs to Legal Aid WA and, due to competing priorities for funds, a request for a transfer of aid to a new lawyer is not automatically granted. You should wait until you get an answer from Legal Aid WA before a new lawyer does work for you. If the grant of aid is not transferred to your new lawyer, you may have to pay the lawyer's bill yourself.

Ask your new lawyer to explain this to you.

Important: There is no right of reconsideration or review in relation to a request for a transfer.

Is a grant of aid free?

We will also work out if you can afford to pay towards your legal help. You can find out more information about how we assess your contribution toward your legal costs here. 

If you and/or a financially associated person owns property, we may require a security over that property called a memorial.

What if I disagree with the decision?

Ask for your application to be reconsidered.  If you are unhappy with our decision, you or your lawyer can write to us within 28 days to ask for reconsideration.  Contact your local Legal Aid WA office if you need help with your request for reconsideration.  We will let you know our decision in writing after we have reviewed your request. 

What if I still disagree?

If you are still unhappy with the decision on reconsideration, you or your lawyer should write to us within 28 days to ask for your application to be reviewed by an independent Review Committee. You may attend this review.

It may take a number of weeks before your application will be reviewed. We will write to let you know the date and time.

Is my application confidential?

All details are confidential.  We may provide information:

  • to your lawyer
  • to any person you agree
  • if requested under Section 64, administrative information: the Legal Aid Commission Act 1976 (WA)
  • under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA).

For more information, contact the Legal Aid WA InfoLine on 1300 650 579.

Do you need further help to apply for a grant of legal aid?

You can:

  • visit your local Legal Aid WA office
  • telephone us
  • ask your lawyer.

Do you have a complaint?

You can complain if your lawyer is funded by Legal Aid WA and you are not happy with the way your case is being handled. You should write to your local Legal Aid WA office.  You can find out more about lodging a complaint here.

The Forum Test

There is a test adopted by Legal Aid Commissions throughout Australia called the Forum Test. This decides which Commission should consider a grant of legal aid for an interstate applicant. The test says that an application for legal aid must be made in the state where the court action should proceed, or is proceeding

Important: The Forum Test may say that Legal Aid Western Australia is not the responsible Commission and may refer you to a Legal Aid office in another state. If your matter relates to proceedings which are to be heard in another state, you should contact that state and ask for their application form.  All forms are available on the individual Legal Aid websites or you can contact your local Legal Aid office and ask them to assist you.  You can find the contact information for all Australian Legal Aid offices here.  

 

If you matter relates to proceedings which are to be heard in another country, you should contact the Legal Aid office in that country for information about how to lodge an application for legal aid with them.  You can find the contact details for international Legal Aid offices here.  

Checklist for all applications

  1. Have you completed the form in full and signed it?

  2. Have you included the financial details of spouse/de-facto?

  3. Have you indicated the urgency of the matter and provided details of your next court date (if applicable)?

  4. Have you given details of any domestic violence? This might include a current fear for safety.

  5. Have you given details of any special circumstances we need to know about you ie disability, language, problems reading and writing, illness or aged.

  6. Has your solicitor certified your application?

  7. Have you included copies of bank statements or passbook? These need to show balances and transactions for the past three months.

  8. If you get a social security pension or benefit, we need a copy of the Centrelink card.

  9. If you have a job we need:
      copies of pay slips for the last three months
      a statement of earnings from your employer.

  10. If you are self-employed, we need:
      a copy of your most recent tax return or
      a notice of assessment.

  11. Have you included copies of relevant reports?

  12. Have you provided copies of any court documents you have?
Last reviewed: 20/05/2010

 

Last Modified: 13/10/2014

Disclaimer

The material displayed on this page is intended for information only. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia believes that the information provided is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions.