Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA's) standard terms
Each person applying for a grant of legal assistance agrees to the following standard terms of assistance when they sign their application form.
Tell VLA about changes in personal details
The assisted person must immediately tell VLA about:
- any change of address while they are receiving a grant of legal assistance or while they owe VLA money
- any change in their financial or personal circumstances from what is set out in the application form
- any other changes that may affect whether they continue to qualify for a grant of legal assistance.
Authorise lawyer to give VLA information
The assisted person authorises any lawyer acting for them, now or in the past, to give VLA any information which VLA needs to carry out its functions under the Legal Aid Act .
Lawyer’s duties in relation to money received
If the assisted person’s lawyer receives any money on their behalf during the period of the grant of legal assistance, then the lawyer must:
- immediately tell VLA of the amount they have received
- hold from that amount enough to cover the cost, if any, of the assisted person’s legal services.
VLA will advise the lawyer about how much, if anything, to hold back.
Payments to VLA
The assisted person must pay to VLA:
- any costs which a court awards them
- any payment of costs by another person which relate to the matter.
Consequences of non-compliance
VLA may stop or change the grant of legal assistance if the assisted person breaks any of these terms or if the assisted person does not follow the advice of their lawyer.
VLA may put a charge over the assisted person’s property as security
VLA may put a statutory charge or request an equitable charge over the person’s property to secure the payment of any financial contribution by the person.
Interest on overdue payments
VLA may require the assisted person to pay interest on any overdue payments in accordance with any VLA policy at the time.
- discussion of how contributions are assessed
- overdue contribution payments.
Other conditions and limits
Sometimes, as well as imposing the standard terms of assistance, VLA may make a grant of legal assistance to a person only on condition that the assisted person agree to one or more of the following:
- to pay an initial contribution, and sometimes a final contribution, towards the legal costs of their matter
- to consent to an equitable charge over their house or land property.
The total amount of any contribution payable by the person may not be known until the legal proceedings have finished. The contribution will not exceed the total amount of costs at the end of a case.
VLA must tell the person that payment of an initial contribution is a condition of a grant of legal assistance
If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance on condition that the assisted person pay an initial contribution towards their legal costs, then VLA must tell the person about the contribution:
- when VLA offers the person the grant of legal assistance
- when VLA provides further assistance.
The assisted person may then choose to either:
- accept the grant of legal assistance or further assistance with the condition
- seek internal reconsideration and then independent review of VLA’s decision
- refuse the offer of the grant of legal assistance.
Public interest cases and test cases
If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance to a person for a public interest case or test case then VLA may decide not to require payment by the person of any financial contribution which VLA may have assessed under the means test.
However, VLA will not waive this requirement if:
- the assessed contribution is more than the estimated legal costs of the case but the assisted person does not have enough time to raise the funds
- the assisted person acquires money or property as a result of the legally assisted proceedings.
Reviewed 18 February 2022