What is Legal Aid?
Legal Aid is a Victorian government-funded service that helps people who cannot afford legal representation. Victoria Legal Aid pays for your lawyer through a ‘grant of legal assistance’. This essential service helps to protect the rights of individuals and ensures that they receive a fair trial.
Applying for Legal Aid
There is a high demand for legal services, so Legal Aid funds are limited and reserved for people facing serious charges who cannot afford their own representation.
To qualify for a legal aid lawyer your legal problem must meet Legal Aid’s guidelines. In order to determine whether you are eligible for legal aid, you need to complete a merits test. This assesses a variety of different matters, depending on the nature of your case, the funding that is being sought, and your personal circumstances. Generally, Legal Aid will only fund your representation in a criminal matter if there is a real risk of you receiving jail time. Some considerations for the merits test include:
- Whether there are reasonable grounds for contesting your changes or appealing a decision
- Whether your case is likely to succeed or fail
- The broader public interest in funding your legal matter
- If there may be the possibility of harm to you if the grant is refused
- Whether it is in the interest of justice that this grant is provided
- The guidelines include a means test, which is used to determine whether you can afford to pay for your own lawyer.