A voluntary, not-for profit scheme, Law Aid is a charitable trust managed by the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar Council.
All forms of civil litigation cases are supported including:
- Personal injury claims
- Claims against institutions involving discrimination or oppressive behaviour
- Professional negligence claims
- Wills and estates claims.
Assistance is not available for criminal law or family law matters.
By encouraging legal practitioners to accept cases of clients who cannot afford to meet their legal costs, Law Aid enhances the ability of all Victorians to access the justice system.
The scheme recognises that, while many solicitors are willing to assist clients who cannot afford to undertake civil litigation, not all law firms are able to carry the cost of associated disbursements.
Law Aid provides a practical solution by paying disbursements including medical practitioners’ and engineers’ fees, travelling, filing fees, jury fees and witness expenses.
Recent cases supported by the scheme include:
- Personal injury claims and damage to property;
- Professional negligence claims;
- Wills and estate claims;
- VCAT appeals;
- Serious injury applications and common law claims;
- Sexual harassment and sexual assault; and
- False imprisonment.
Law Aid also supports matters of public interest requiring funding of disbursements but resulting in no return to the Trust Fund except for the refund of disbursements if a costs order is made.
How the scheme operates
- Prior to application, you must agree not to seek payment of fees until the successful conclusion of the case and to waive all professional costs incurred should the case not succeed.
- Applications must be made on the Law Aid Application Form and can only be accepted from legal practitioners.
- Both you and your client must sign the application form.
- Your client must pay a non-refundable fee of $150 which is to be attached to the application.
- Granting of assistance is at the Trustees’ discretion
- Applications are regularly assessed by the Trustees to ensure that continuing funding remains appropriate.
- Eligibility for funding is assessed on two bases: your client’s ability to pay and a realistic appraisal of the likely success of the matter.
- If the matter is successful, the client must pay a percentage (5% in matters where the application was received after 31 Aug 2015) of any award or settlement plus any amount paid for disbursements on their behalf.
- If the matter is not successful, no payment is required.