How do I apply?
You should first go to a free advice session at a Legal Aid office or contact your private lawyer so you can talk about your legal problem. You then need to complete an application form. These are available from the Commission or your private lawyer. Either post or deliver the form in person to the Commission for assessment. If you are applying for help with a parenting and/or property dispute after separation, you will also need to fill in a
Assessment for an ongoing grant of legal aid is made by applying three tests. These are applied to everyone who asks for a grant of aid. If you do not meet these tests then you will not be eligible for ongoing aid.
- the means test: this determines whether you can afford a private lawyer. If you can then you will not be eligible for ongoing aid.
- type of matter test: this determines whether your problem is in one of the identified Legal Aid ‘priority’ categories, or whether you can obtain appropriate assistance elsewhere.
- merit test: this determines whether you are likely to succeed in your case and whether providing aid to you will achieve what you want.
You will be advised of the outcome by mail, (in non urgent cases) usually within 10 working days. All applicants are given a guide which provides more information about the conditions that apply to ongoing aid.
What Do I Pay?
Everyone who is granted ongoing legal aid pays a minimum initial contribution of $110. This can be paid off in instalments if necessary. Any further contribution that you may have to make is worked out on a sliding scale based on your financial position and the likely cost of the case. At the end of your case your contribution will be reassessed. If you have received a cash lump sum or a significant amount of property then your contribution may be increased. The money you contribute makes legal aid available to other people.
Any financial assistance received from the Contingency Fund has to be repaid with interest at the end of your case.
What If I Don’t Agree With a Decision?
If your application for aid is refused you can have the decision reconsidered. To do this you must make a written request to the Director of the NT Legal Aid Commission within 3 months of receiving notice of this decision. It is then reconsidered by another lawyer at the Commission.
If you do not agree with the second decision you can have it reconsidered by the Legal Aid Review Committee. The Committee has three members, two of whom are not Commission staff. You (or your private solicitor) can talk to the Review Committee and if they agree the decision can be changed. To apply to the Review Committee you must make a written request to the Director of the NT Legal Aid Commission within 3 months of receiving notice of the result of the first reconsideration.