Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Guideline statement help (Commonwealth civil law)

Seeking a grant of legal assistance in matters under the Commonwealth civil law guidelines involves the following:

Choose your template

Veterans’ matters (both in the AAT and at the federal appellate level) have their own templates, and assistance should be sought using those separate templates. Assistance for all other civil matters can be sought using this template.

Addressing the guideline

Every application for assistance under these guidelines is assessed by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA). You must provide sufficient information to enable VLA to make a decision whether or not the applicant should receive assistance.

Practitioners must briefly and accurately set out the background of the legal problem. This would include:

  • relevant dates, in chronological order, that led to the current charge/dispute/action
  • identifying the issues in dispute.

It is generally insufficient to say 'Refer to attachments' and rely on that statement as a submission. However, it is quite acceptable to provide a submission and highlight a relevant attachment. A good example would be attaching a relevant court document to which the practitioner has made reference – for example, a copy of any relevant affidavits.


Select the appropriate guideline under which assistance is sought. If none of the matters for which you seek assistance is listed, please select ‘Other commonwealth civil matter’.

Address the selected guideline

After providing an explanation as to the background of the matter, the practitioner must now address the specific guideline.

Merits of the application

The practitioner must now provide their opinion on whether the matter is meritorious, and what prospects of success the matter may have.

‘Reasonable prospects of success’ is the basic test. It is met only if, on the information provided to VLA, it appears the proposed funded action is more likely than not to succeed.

Other Commonwealth matters under the guidelines may require higher prospects of success before being considered eligible for funding. For example, see guideline 4 (Equal opportunity and discrimination cases), and guideline 6 (Other federal and High Court proceedings) where ‘a strong prospect of a substantial benefit’ is required.

Cost benefit or cost detriment of the application

Practitioners are asked to address two aspects:

  • The cost benefit aspect should be approached by addressing whether the costs involved in providing the legal assistance are warranted by the likely benefit to the applicant or (in appropriate cases) the community.
  • The cost detriment aspect should be approached by addressing whether a prudent self-funding litigant would risk their own financial resources by privately funding the action for which the current applicant seeks assistance.

Reviewed 24 January 2022