Applying for a grant of aid
We have guidelines about what family, criminal and civil law problems can get a grant of aid. In some situations, you may need to show there are special reasons for why you need Legal Aid WA to provide a lawyer to represent you.
This information will help you to understand how you can get a grant of aid. Find out:
- what matters can get a grant of aid
- how we assess your application
- what work a grant of aid covers
- how you can choose your lawyer
- the conditions that apply to a grant of aid.
What matters can get a grant of aid?
You will need to get a grant of aid to have ongoing legal representation for your legal problem. Grants of aid may be available for the following types of cases.
Family law matters
- Applications for parenting orders in the Family Court
- Protection and care matters in the Children’s Court, and some pre-birth signs of safety meetings
- Restraining Order applications involving family violence
- Family Dispute Resolution conferences about children or property issues.
Criminal law matters
- Criminal charges dealt with in the District or Supreme Courts
- Some appeals to the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal
- Charges in the Children’s Court
- Investigations involving the Corruption and Crime Commission.
Civil law matters
- Applications under the Guardianship and Administration Act
- Compensation applications under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act
- National Disability Insurance Scheme Appeals for complex or novel matters in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
How does Legal Aid WA assess my application?
Applications for a grant of aid are normally checked against three tests:
- A matter test – where does your type of legal problem fit within our guidelines and priority categories?
- A means test – based on your income and assets, how much are you able to pay for a lawyer?
- A merits test – in the circumstances of your case, is it appropriate we help pay for a lawyer?
Applications for assistance with NDIS Appeals are not subject to the means test.
What work does a grant of aid cover?
Under a grant of aid, Legal Aid WA pays for lawyer to do work in stages. Normally, the first stage of a grant of aid will pay for initial advice, investigation and negotiation on your case. The grant of aid can be extended to cover more work (such as going to trial) if there is merit to take your case to the next stage.
The grant of aid pays your lawyer an hourly rate, up to a maximum amount set by Legal Aid WA. We will only pay your lawyer for work done under the grant of aid and not for other work the lawyer does for you. If you have a grant of aid, your lawyer cannot ask you to pay them anything extra, other than your assessed contribution.
Can I choose my lawyer?
You can name the lawyer you want when you fill in the application form. Your choice is only checked after your application has been processed. It doesn’t change how your application is treated to decide if you will receive a grant of aid.
In some situations, a grant of aid will only pay for a lawyer who works for Legal Aid WA to run your case. If you are given a grant of aid to pay for a private lawyer, you can usually have the lawyer you nominated if they are on the relevant practitioner panel for that type of legal problem. If they are not on the panel, or are unavailable to take on new cases, you will be given another private lawyer from that panel.
Lawyers on our practitioner panels can also submit an application for a grant of aid for you. You can ask them about applying for a grant of aid.
What conditions apply to a grant of aid?
A copy of the conditions that apply to a grant of aid is included with the application form. They include:
- You may be asked to pay a contribution towards your legal costs.
- You might be asked to give security for your contribution if you cannot pay it straight away.
- You or your lawyer must tell us straight away of any change to your address, financial circumstances or anything that might affect your case.
- You cannot change lawyer without good reason and permission from Legal Aid WA. You might have to pay any extra costs involved with changing lawyers.
- Your lawyer cannot ask you to pay for any work done under the grant of aid. Your lawyer must bill Legal Aid WA.
- If your lawyer receives any money for you, they must hold onto enough to cover the amount of the grant of aid.
- If you do not follow the advice of your lawyer, your grant of aid may be terminated.
- If you break any of the conditions of a grant of aid, your grant of aid may be terminated.
- Legal Aid WA can review your grant of aid, and its terms, at any time.
It is best to get legal advice before you apply for a grant of aid. If you have an appointment for legal advice or get help at court from a duty lawyer, you can discuss whether a grant of aid is likely to be available in your case.
If you are unhappy with a decision about a grant of aid, including having an application rejected or grant of aid terminated, you might be able to ask us to reconsider or review the matter.
Reviewed: 1 June 2016