Terms and conditions of use of Grants Online
(Also referred to as "E-Lodgement Guidelines")
Legal Aid NSW requires practitioners and their staff to comply with the following terms and conditions when using Grants Online.
1. The practitioner and his/her staff must
- at all times act honestly and in good faith in his/her dealings with Legal Aid NSW
- comply with the requirements of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW)
- comply with any Legal Aid NSW policies or guidelines governing the submission of applications for legal aid or claims for payment of fees and disbursements.
Policies and guidelines are available under For Lawyers > Policy Online.
2. The practitioner must keep a copy of the application signed by the client on his/her file.
However the practitioner is not required to obtain the client’s signature if
- the practitioner is acting as the separate legal representative for a child, or
- the application is an extension request.
If the client is in custody and it was not practicable for the practitioner to obtain the client’s signature before submitting the application, the practitioner must obtain the client's signature on the application form as soon as practicable.
3. The practitioner must keep on his/her file copies of documents verifying the client’s income and assets, and the income and assets of any financially associated person of the client, in accordance with the requirements in the Legal Aid NSW means test guidelines.
4. The practitioner must ensure that the information entered into the application form accurately reflects the client's means as disclosed on the verification of means documents. If the practitioner is unable to obtain verification of means and is therefore seeking to waive the requirement to obtain verification, this must be clearly noted in the appropriate field on the application form.
5. Where the client has consented to Legal Aid NSW verifying his/her entitlements with Centrelink, the practitioner must keep on his/her file the original Centrelink consent form signed and dated by the client.
6. The practitioner must NOT indicate on the application that the client has consented to Legal Aid NSW verifying his/her entitlements with Centrelink, unless the practitioner holds the original Centrelink consent form signed and dated by the client.
7. The original signed Centrelink consent must be retained by the practitioner for five years from the date of submission of the application or if any extension request is submitted, for five years from the date of the last extension request; the original signed Centrelink consent form must be provided to Legal Aid NSW immediately upon request for the purpose of audit by either Legal Aid NSW or Centrelink.
8. The practitioner must retain on his/her file sufficient documentation including all relevant reports, correspondence and file notes to
- justify any recommendation made by the practitioner that an application for legal aid has legal merit or satisfies relevant policy and guidelines
- verify the completion of any work for which payment of fees has been claimed from Legal Aid NSW.
In particular, the practitioner must ensure that
- the factual basis of a matter, notes of meetings with a client, the status of proceedings and further action required are recorded in the file
- correspondence, memoranda, notes of meetings, notes of instructions, telephone notes and any other relevant file notes or other documents are attached to the file in chronological order
- documents filed, served or issued in the proceedings are kept on the file
- records are kept of all court attendances and are noted with time spent at court.
9. The practitioner must ensure that all claims for fees submitted to Legal Aid NSW accurately reflect the work done on the file. The practitioner must claim fees and disbursements in accordance with any applicable Legal Aid NSW scale of fees. Where fees are paid on a unit basis (eg in hours or days) the practitioner must claim only the number of units of work actually conducted on the matter.
The practitioner may claim fees only for the purpose specified in the grant of legal aid. For example the practitioner may not claim fees against hours approved for court attendance to cover preparation undertaken by the practitioner.
10. The practitioner must retain on his/her file receipts for all disbursements for which payment has been claimed from Legal Aid NSW. However for disbursements consisting of telephone calls, faxes, photocopies or mileage, the practitioner may retain, instead of receipts, other verifying evidence such as file notes, fax transmission records and copies of telephone accounts, vehicle logs and photocopier logs.
11. If requested by Legal Aid NSW, the practitioner must forward to Legal Aid NSW, within the time requested by Legal Aid NSW, the signed copy of the legal aid application form, the signed Centrelink consent form (if applicable), the documents verifying the client’s means, the documents justifying a merit recommendation, the receipts for or other evidence of any disbursements claimed, and documents verifying completion of the work for which payment of fees has been claimed from Legal Aid NSW.
Security and confidentiality
12. The practitioner is responsible for the security of the administrator user name and password issued to the practitioner’s firm by Legal Aid NSW and for the security of user names and passwords issued by Legal Aid NSW or the firm’s administrator to other staff in the firm. The practitioner must immediately notify Legal Aid NSW in writing if the firm's administrator ceases to be employed by the firm.
13. The practitioner must ensure that
- each practitioner or staff member in the practitioner’s firm requiring access to Grants Online has his/her own user name
- each practitioner or staff member in the practitioner’s firm keeps his/her password secure
- neither the practitioner nor any staff member in the practitioner’s firm divulges his/her password to any other person within or outside the practitioner's firm
- passwords are changed every 30 days
- strong passwords are used, including a minimum length of eight characters, and at least one character from three of the following four groups
- uppercase characters (A through Z)
- lowercase characters (a through z)
- numerals (0 through 9)
- non-alphabetic characters (such as !, $, #, %)
The practitioner and his/her staff should note that no Legal Aid NSW staff member will ask a practitioner or one of his/her staff to divulge his/her password to Legal Aid NSW.
14. The practitioner must ensure that neither s/he nor any of the staff in his/her firm
- inserts passwords into email messages or other forms of written communication
- enables a browser to auto save passwords
- uses with Grants Online a password s/he uses for any other online service or account.
15. The practitioner and his/her staff must ensure computers they use to access Grants Online are secure. In particular practitioners must ensure that
- anti-virus, firewall and spy ware protection is in operation and kept up to date regularly, and
- computers are regularly scanned for viruses and spy ware.
The practitioner and his/her staff must ensure that
- Grants Online sessions logged in are not left unattended unless the computer is locked and accessible only to the individual who is logged in to Grants Online
- Grants Online sessions are always fully logged out and the browser window closed when completing use of Grants Online
- Grants Online is not accessed from shared or public computers (eg Internet cafes).
16. The practitioner and his/her staff must take all reasonable steps to prevent any person gaining unauthorised access to Grants Online through the use of that practitioner or staff member's access.
17. If the practitioner suspects that his/her password or that of any staff member in the practitioner’s firm has become known to any other person, the practitioner must ensure that the password is immediately changed. The practitioner must immediately notify Legal Aid NSW if the practitioner suspects that any unauthorised person may have gained access to Grants Online.
18. The practitioner must ensure that the access to Grants Online facilities of any staff member of the practitioner’s firm is immediately disabled if the staff member leaves the firm.
19. The practitioner must immediately advise Legal Aid NSW if s/he leaves the firm at which s/he is registered for Grants Online.
20. The practitioner is liable for the actions and omissions of his/her employees which, if they had been acts or omissions of the practitioner, would have constituted a breach of these terms and conditions.
Updating of firm and practitioner contact details
21. The practitioner must ensure that
a) The firm's administrator updates the following details in Grants Online when changes occur
- Firm address
- Firm telephone number
- Firm fax number
- Firm email address
- Firm remittance email address
- Firm remittance fax number
- Firm bank account details
b) Either the firm's administrator or each practitioner in the firm updates the following details in Grants Online when changes occur
- Practitioner phone number
- Practitioner mobile phone number
- Practitioner fax number
- Practitioner email address.