Conditions of Legal Aid

Conditions of Legal Aid
When does Legal Aid begin?
Important information you should know about Legal Aid

Conditions of Legal Aid

You must tell your lawyer everything he or she needs to know and must follow any reasonable advice that the lawyer gives.

You must tell the Commission if you change address and if there is any change in your financial circumstances or other factors that may affect your eligibility for legal aid.

When does Legal Aid begin?

It is very important to make a legal aid application as soon as possible to enable your eligibility to be determined before legal proceedings commence. Legal aid pays legal fees only after the date legal aid is granted. We cannot pay for any legal work done before legal aid is approved. If your application is approved you will get a letter confirming this, usually within 14 days of applying but we can process urgent applications more quickly. If you are due in court before your application has been processed you can tell the court you have applied for aid and ask the court for an adjournment till a later date.

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Important information you should know about Legal Aid

1. PROOF OF MEANS

Before we can process your application we need copies of your:

  1. Bank statements or passbooks for the last two months,
  2. Letter from Centrelink stating which Benefit you are on, and how much you receive,
  3. Payslips for the last four weeks (if working),
  4. Last tax return (if self-employed).

We must also have copies of these documents from a financially associated person. A financially associated person may include a spouse, defacto, company, trust, partnership or other financial entity. (For full definition of the term please see Page 2 of the Application Form immediately under the bold heading: “Means Test-Income and Assets”.)

1A. RELEVANT DOCUMENTS

You should also provide copies of relevant court orders, proceedings, summons, bail agreements etc., which relate to the application for legal aid, and which will assist our assessment.

2. CHOICE OF LAWYER

If there is a particular lawyer whom you want to handle your case, write his or her name on the form. If you do not have a particular lawyer in mind, we will choose one for you. If you prefer to see a male or female lawyer, please write this on the form too. We will take your choice into account when assessing the application.

3. IMPORTANT CONDITIONS

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.

LEGAL AID IS NOT FREE

There are several ways in which you will be asked to pay money towards your legal aid:

(a) Contribution

We will work out how much you can afford to pay towards your case. The minimum contribution is $30.00 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 the 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.

(b) Charge Over Your Real Estate

If you and/or a financially associated person own or are buying real estate we will take a charge unless your case costs less than $2200.00. The charge makes sure that you pay back the whole cost of your case eventually. We do not sell your house but wait until you decide to sell, transfer or refinance it, or if you die we collect the money from your estate. Most cases, apart from simple guilty pleas or very short criminal trials, cost more than $2200.00. Read our charge brochure and ask your lawyer about this.

No interest is levied on this charge, but there is an administration fee of $300.

4. PAYING BACK YOUR COSTS

(a) If you get money from your legal case, such as compensation, damages or property settlement, you will have to pay back your legal aid in full.

(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.

5. 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 whether 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 can not 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.

6. 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, enter a financially associated 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 these conditions. Ask your lawyer if you are unsure.

7. WHAT YOUR LAWYER MUST DO

(a) Your lawyer must keep your case confidential, apart from some things which he or she must tell us, 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.

8. WHAT WE WILL DO

We will process your application once we receive the completed form and proof of means. This takes us about 7-14 days. You can ring us after this time if you have not heard. We will then write to you telling you whether you have got legal aid or not. If you have got legal aid, the letter will tell you who your lawyer is and will ask you to contact him or her. It will also tell you about your contribution.

If you have not got legal aid, the letter will tell you why and will explain how you can appeal.

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 which your lawyer needs from us.

(d) If we are required by law, including a court order, to release the information.

(e) If we take a charge over your real estate, we send a copy of the charge document to your other lender(s) and the charge is registered at the Lands Titles Office.

9. RIGHT TO APPEAL

If you do not agree with our decision in your case, or with a condition of legal aid, you can appeal. To appeal, write to us within fourteen (14) days of our letter, telling us why you think the decision is wrong. You do not need a lawyer's help to appeal. You can appeal by yourself, simply by writing a letter to us. Of course, you can pay a lawyer to appeal for you if you wish. We will write and let you know the result of your appeal.

10. IF YOU NEED MORE INFORMATION

If you do not understand the conditions of aid or need more information about legal aid, you can:

(a) ask your lawyer

(b) write to us

(c) attend one of our offices and speak to us about it, or,

(d) access the Practitioners Guide to Legal Aid on www.lsc.sa.gov.au

The addresses of our offices are printed on the back of this form.

Once you accept legal aid, the conditions of aid will apply to you whether or not you agree with them or understand them.

Please make sure that you understand the conditions before accepting legal aid.

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